Today a news story was published with a headline about nursing pillows being associated with infant deaths.

This is a difficult statistic to hear and read. Any infant death is tragic and is deeply upsetting.

The story reported that most of the incidents were related to unsafe sleep environments. For perspective, last month at Safe Kids Worldwide PrevCon, CPSC Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric noted, “The CDC reports that more than 3,400 sleep-related infant deaths occur each year. CPSC’s most recent report on deaths in nursery products found that about 75% of all deaths involving cribs and mattresses were associated with a cluttered sleep environment (things like pillows, blankets, and comforters) that led to asphyxiation of the infant.”

An unsafe infant sleep environment is a significant issue that goes beyond associations with nursing pillows. Nursing pillows are not, and have never been, sleep products. According to incident data there are NO incidents of death when the nursing pillow is used as instructed and advised – always with adult supervision, never alone, and never for sleep.

Breastfeeding greatly reduces the risk of SIDS

The story did not report how beneficial breastfeeding is in reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Researchers have noted that when babies are breastfed for at least two months, their risk of SIDS is nearly cut in half. Encouraging breastfeeding and providing support to breastfeeding mothers can play a vital role in promoting infant health and safety.

It’s crucial to recognize that breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers, and they need adequate support and resources to overcome any difficulties. Nursing pillows have been proven to increase breastfeeding success by providing ergonomic back and arm support for more comfortable feedings. A comfortable and relaxed condition can suppress the release of stress hormones and increase the hormones that play a role in breast milk production. Nursing pillows are used safely at least 2.5 million times a day by parents and caregivers. Ninety percent of nursing pillows that are sold and used are c- or u-shaped.

BFIDSA fully supports the development of an ASTM safety standard for nursing pillows that studies the data and human behavior to limit hazards and ensure that products in the nursing pillow category are safe when used as instructed and intended.

We also support addressing the real issue, unsafe sleep environments, instead of banning or significantly altering the popular c- and u-shaped nursing pillows that are proven to work for most parents and caregivers. We call upon the CPSC to collaborate on safety and education initiatives for parents and caregivers. We welcome the CPSC’s leadership to help increase awareness for safe infant sleep and safe product use.

We stand side-by-side with members including healthcare providers, lactation consultants, doulas, WIC supporters, and manufacturers to ensure the safest and best nursing pillows remain available to moms who want to breastfeed, and dads, moms, and caregivers who want and need support while bottle feeding.

Share your support

We encourage supporters of all nursing pillows to click this link to send a note to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, encouraging the Commission to work with the ASTM subcommittee in development of a strong safety standard.

Thank you for your support. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

August 7, 2023