We know that babies should not sleep on soft surfaces, like a fluffy comforter, as this increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Now, recent research has shown that inflatable beds or mattresses can be linked to infant death as well.
In a report by WebMD, the research authors from the University of Georgia explained the potential danger. “Even when fully inflated, air mattresses can mold to the infant's face and obstruct the airway by forming an occlusive seal. The risk increases when air mattresses leak during use. Underinflation was a factor in some of the infant deaths reviewed.”
In the U.S., 108 infant deaths were reported to have been caused by inflatable beds between 2005 and 2015, according to the National Child Death Review Case Reporting System. However, more may have gone unreported since no system is in place to track such incidents in the country, according to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
In 2015, the total number of infants who died due to accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed in the U.S was around 900, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a report by the NPR.
Researchers point out that more effort is needed to inform the public of the dangers of inflatable beds to infants. Of the policy statements from 12 organizations that they perused, only one mentioned inflatable bed as a hazard to safe sleep in babies.
Medical experts and groups have listed surfaces where babies should not be put to sleep. Mayo Clinic, for example, cites comforters and waterbeds.
“Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics's (AAP) latest recommendations for safe sleep practices, which was released in October last year.
“Everybody thinks if it’s soft, then it can’t hurt the baby. But soft bedding is actually really a problem because it’s so soft they sink into it. People will often use pillows to 'cushion' the babies, and babies sink into them,” added Dr. Moon.
When it comes to the crib, recommendations state that the only thing that should be in your baby's sleeping space is a tight-fitting mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Nothing else -- no bumper pads, no pillows, no blankets, no stuffed animals -- just the crib, the mattress, and the baby.
Keep your baby safe at night. Find all the safe sleep recommendations from the AAP here.