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.


5 responses to “For Sleeping Babies, Softer Isn’t Safer”

  1. sbuffalonative says:

    Posters for this issue are posted all over the Buffalo metro bus and rail; in both English and Spanish, of course. The big warning, however, is that babies are best left to sleep alone as to prevent rolling on top of babies and smothering them.

  2. NBJ says:

    When my children were infants, they slept on a firm mattress covered only with a sheet and a blanket in their crib. They slept just fine. I was so paranoid about SIDS that I even refused to put bumpers around the crib until they were much older, for fear they would roll over and their faces be pressed against them. How mothers of any race can be so uninformed is just beyond me.

  3. Alexandra says:

    There’s a link between vaccines and SIDS. About 30 years ago the Japanese held off on vaccinating their children until 2 years of age, and SIDS pretty much disappeared. When they started vaccinating babies again–it came back.

  4. Stonelifter says:

    Is it the bedding or is the bedding being blamed when black women commit late, late term abortions?I think that’s a question to be asked given the higher rate of murder for blacks

  5. Anonymous says:

    Any compassionate person will agree that the death of an infant–any infant–is a horror show. However we mustn’t let sentimentalism get in the way of facing facts head on in a sensible manner. Many of these mothers never bothered to get good, consistent prenatal care. Many others used tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs, gained excess weight and indulged in other habits known to adversely affect a developing fetus, and after the child is born they continue making choices that will ensure their children will grow up with less-than-optimum health, education and behavior. In cases like these, maybe a few less thugs and thugettes-to-be is not an altogether tragic occurance.