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Incorrect Usage of Nursing Pillow Related to Infant Deaths

Let These Tragic Infant Deaths Serve as a Warning to Parents: Nursing Pillows Are For Feeding Only

Any parent with a crescent-shaped nursing pillow knows how much easier nursing and feeding an infant becomes with the support it gives — but that support should only be used for baby while feeding, not for sleeping.

A Pennsylvania coroner, Graham Hetrick, is trying to raise awareness of the usage of the pillows — which have a warning right on the tag that indicates the pillows should not be used to prop up a baby for sleep — after the recent deaths of three infants could possibly be linked to this type of incorrect utilization.

If a baby is propped up to sleep using one of these pillows, the baby could slide down, causing the neck to bend in a way that would block the airway. All three infants who are believed to have died in this manner were too young to pull themselves up after sliding down, causing death by suffocation.

To ensure this type of death is avoided, Boppy, a company with popular nursing pillows, has a separate section of their website dedicated to safe sleep practices for baby:

  • Always place your baby to sleep on his/her back on a firm mattress that fits an approved crib.
  • Remove all soft bedding, toys and pillows from your baby's sleep area . . .
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using wearable blankets instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
  • Give your baby lots of supervised tummy time to strengthen your baby's arms, neck and shoulder muscles . . .
  • Never allow baby to sleep on a Boppy Pillow or Boppy Newborn Lounger.
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