Posted on August 24, 2011

For Sleeping Babies, Softer Isn’t Safer

MSNBC, August 23, 2011

Lots of African American moms put soft bedding such as pillows and blankets where babies sleep, despite warnings that the cushioning increases the risk of infant death, according to a new study.

That’s because many parents are under the impression that a soft sleeping environment means the baby will be more comfortable or will be protected from injuries, said Dr. Rachel Moon.


Researchers know that black babies are at least twice as likely as white, Latino, and Asian babies to die of accidental suffocation, strangulation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)–also known as “crib death.” While some of that higher incidence may be related to genetics, much of it is probably due to parents unknowingly putting infants in a dangerous sleeping place or position, Moon said.

To find out whether black families know about the risks, Moon and her colleagues conducted one-on-one interviews and small group discussions with 83 black mothers in D.C. and Maryland with a new baby at home.


More than of half of the moms reported using soft bedding for their baby, according to findings published in Pediatrics. They told researchers they wanted to make sure the kids were comfortable and warm, or that they used pillows as a barricade on beds and sofas, or to prop babies up.