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Choosing Baby Sleep Positioners

Newborn asleep

The recent flood of baby sleep positioners to hit the child care market has stirred up controversy regarding health and safety. Awareness and education should accompany every purchase new parents make for their babies.

What Is a Sleep Positioner?

A sleep positioner is a cushioned device designed to keep infants six months and younger positioned on their backs or in some cases their sides while sleeping. Most positioners feature two stabilization pillows or rolls on each side of its base to prevent babies from turning over. However, the child care market now offers other types geared towards medical condition or comfort. Take a look at the list below for examples of the latest type of sleep postioners.

  • Wedge-Shaped Positioners: Marketed for babies with apnea, congestion or reflux, this kind of positioner keeps the baby's head elevated at an angle of 30 degrees or greater. According to distributors, this position helps infants breathe easier and decreases milk reflux.
  • Bolster Positioners: By far the most common type, bolsters feature the two-sided roll design that prevents baby from turning over to his tummy. The best-made bolsters have side rolls that stop short of the shoulder area to prevent accidental suffocation.
  • Combination Positioners: The latest baby sleep positioners feature a memory foam wedge for placing under the baby's head as well as side rolls to limit movement. Distributors claim that the memory foam prevents babies from developing flat spots on the backs of their heads.
  • Nest Positioners: Designed for newborns and small infants that may co-sleep with parents, nest positioners offer firm sections of mesh fabric around the head and upper body. This kind of design keeps parents from sleeping dangerously close to new babies.

Important Information about Baby Sleep Positioners

Every new parent wants her baby to sleep well and safely, but it's sometimes difficult to separate myth from fact when it comes to safe sleep. The market for child care products continues to experience rapid growth resulting in a steady release of items targeting the safety concerns of parents. Before you rush out to purchase the latest baby care product for your child, take some time to conduct some research to determine both its safety and its usefulness.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like other baby products, sleep positioners offer some advantages. For best results read labels and documentation to determine if the pros outweigh the cons for your particular situation. It's important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that all healthy babies should sleep only on their backs to prevent suffocation and SIDS related death.


  • Helps baby sleep more comfortably
  • Good positioners keeps baby on her back
  • Helps prevent flat spots from forming
  • Elevates baby's head
  • Keeps baby from falling off of adult-sized beds
  • Wedge positioners reduce the hazard of choking on spit-up


  • May provide a false sense of security
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using positioners
  • Consumer Reports states that many positioners can cause suffocation
  • No proof exists that baby sleep positioners offer any benefits
  • Using side sleep positioners poses an increased risk of suffocation

What to Look For

Despite recommendations from physicians and baby care experts, many parents opt to use a sleep positioner and go on to experience good results. If you think your baby would benefit from such a device, make safety your number one priority. The list below offers common safety guidelines to use when shopping for a sleep positioner.

  • Make sure the positioner is fire resistant
  • Look for firm padding that won't obstruct air flow
  • Opt for safe functionality instead of aesthetics
  • Select a model that provides air vents
  • Look for a product with full documentation and instructions
  • Make certain the positioner will adjust as baby grows

Closing Thoughts

Most of the time baby sleep positioners cause no harm to babies when parents use them properly. If you choose to use a sleep positioner, pay close attention to your baby's sleep patterns and stop using the product if he consistently slides out of position or tends to squirm out of the supports.

Choosing Baby Sleep Positioners