Posted by Megan Petchel & Julie Monson on

what is a baby pod and is it safe?

Sleep pods or baby nests are one of the newer additions to the baby market with an increasing popularity. They provide a soft sleeping surface for your infant with built-in bumpers to assist in creating a womb-like environment. These pods are often used to add extra padding and comfort to bassinets, Moses baskets and cots.

As convenient and comfortable as these pods/nests appear, the CCPC issued guidance to consumers in 2022 warning of the potential dangers of baby nest/pods. This guidance follows a combined total of over 4,500 dangerous baby nests and baby sleep bags being recalled in Ireland between 2021-2022.

They are not recommended to be used as a sleep device, however, they could be used for moderate supervised, AWAKE play and tummy time to promote development.  


As of August 2021, a company producing boppy's/lounger pods has issued a recall in the US for 3.3 million of its Newborn Lounger baby pillows following the deaths of eight babies between December 2015 and June 2020. 

"The official recall notice – issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US – notes that infants can suffocate if they roll, move or are placed on the lounger in a position that obstructs their breathing. Or if they roll off the lounger onto another surface, such as an adult’s pillow or soft bedding this could also obstruct breathing". -Which?

Furthermore, The CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) issued a safety warning against the DockATot Deluxe+ Dock baby loungers for safety violations in 2022. According to the CPSC, the DockATot Deluxe+ loungers are unsafe for your babies to sleep in, and you should discontinue using them immediately. (1) The CPSC also mentioned that there had been infant deaths associated with the use of these DockATot products. So, they’re notifying the public that these are unsafe for sleep. (1) The brand is also prohibited from selling, promoting, or distributing any of these “unsafe products” manufactured after June 23, 2022. (1)

Professionals advise against using pods for sleeping


What is a baby nest or pod?

A baby pod or nest features soft, wall-like structures that surround the base. The positioners claim to keep a baby in a specific position while sleeping and are often used for babies under 6 months old.   Parents also use pods as a co-sleeper placed in between them in bed.

Do baby nests/ pods/ sleep positioners reduce the risk of SIDS, reflux OR FLAT HEAD SYNDROME?

Some manufacturers falsely advertise that their sleep positioners prevent the following medical conditions:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), 
  • or flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly). 

HOWEVER, here are the facts:

  1. The FDA has never cleared an infant sleep positioner that claims to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS. ·      
  2. Sleep positioners that do not meet the definition of a medical device may be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 
  3. The FDA had previously cleared some infant positioners for GERD or flat head syndrome. 
  4. In 2010, the FDA became aware of infant positioners being marketed with SIDS claims and notified manufacturers to stop marketing these devices and submit information to support FDA clearance. 
  5. The FDA intends to take action against device manufacturers who make unproven medical claims about their products.

Is it safe for my baby to sleep in a pod?

No, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A) warned parents not to put babies in sleep positioners. These products, sometimes also called “nests”, “pods” or “anti-roll” products, can cause suffocation that can lead to death.   

In the USA, government has received reports about babies who have died from suffocation associated with their sleep positioners. In most of these cases, the babies suffocated after rolling from their sides to their stomachs. 

Baby pods  do not provide a firm and flat surface for your baby to sleep on which can potentially increase their risk of SIDS and suffocation especially if they were to roll onto their tummy or face.   Parents are discouraged from placing a baby nest in a bassinet, Moses basket or cot as it can increase the possibility of your baby becoming trapped or suffocating. This is in line with the AAP guidelines of not having any soft or loose items in your baby’s sleeping area.

Another important thing to note is that there are no British or European safety standards for baby pods or nests. Unlike mattresses and cots there does not appear to be any rigorous testing to ensure the safety of these devices. This is especially concerning as many small local South African companies have begun creating and selling their own baby nests which do not conform to any safety standards.

sleep pods not safe for sleep

What are the dangers of my baby sleeping in a baby pod?

Most baby pods have a soft base and padded sides which present a potential suffocation risk. There is strong evidence which indicates that a soft mattress can increase the possible risk of SIDS by 5 times. Should your baby roll onto their tummy, a soft surface would mold to their face and make it difficult for them to breathe or move themselves out of this position.    

Some baby pods are advertised as having sides which are made from "breathable material". Breathability, by definition, means water vapor can pass through not that babies can breathe through it. Evidence that is available from the AAP shows that breathable sleep surfaces have not been scientifically shown to decrease the possible risk of SIDS or suffocation.

Groundbreaking research on inclined sleep products for infants by Dr Erin Mannen., a baby biomechanics expert and mechanical engineer at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was made public Wednesday as part of a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation into their safety and related rulemaking. 

Over the course of a year-long study, we found evidence that babies age 2-6 months on average who were placed in inclined sleep products were at higher risk of suffocation in these products compared to a flat crib mattress,” Mannen said. “We found evidence that some of the deaths linked to these products occurred when babies who were placed on their backs to sleep rolled over — many for the first time — and were found dead on their stomachs.”

Using a baby nest or pod for sleep poses the following serious risks:

  1. Strangulation due to drawstrings or ribbons on certain styles of baby nests. Never introduce any kind of cords or strings into a baby’s sleep area.
  2. Choking can occur if the inner contents, stuffing or detachable parts were to become accessible to a baby. 
  3. Suffocation can occur due to the sides of a baby nest which can be quite soft, similar to cushions or bumpers. Any gaps between the sides and base mattress can also cause a baby’s head to get trapped.

pods are a suffocation risk

Can a baby pod be used safely for sleeping?

No, a baby nest/pod is not a safe place for your baby to sleep and poses serious health and safety risks. 

To reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, positioned on a firm, empty surface. This surface should not contain soft objects, toys, pillows, or loose bedding. It is therefore not recommended that babies be put to sleep on a baby nest or pod.

Is it safe for my baby to play in a baby pod?

Allowing your baby to play in a pod is safe as long as they are supervised and awake. The bumper side of the pod can make tummy time with your baby easier by propping them up and encouraging them to weight-bear on their arms. It also allows them to observe their surroundings and start to reach out and engage with their environment. This presents opportunities for development of eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Allowing your infant to play on their back and reach for hanging items is also beneficial, however as this is the position they sleep in, it is often best to focus on tummy time to prevent flat-head syndrome. 

pod used for playing

What is a safer alternative to using a baby pod for sleep?

The safest alternative to a baby pod is using a freestanding bassinet or cot, ideally in your room for the first 6 months. This allows your baby to be next to the side of your bed whilst being on a firm, flat and separate surface.   

In order to mimic a womb like environment, you can swaddle your baby and place them on their back to sleep. The swaddle should be secure to prevent it from coming loose. To ensure your baby’s safety, it is important that swaddling stops when your baby starts showing signs of rolling.

In Conclusion

Baby pods, nests or positioners are not considered safe for babies to sleep with, as they pose a suffocation hazard. Recalls and safety warnings have been issued in USA and Europe against these products. There have been several recorded incidences of babies dying as a result of suffocation from these products. It is therefore strongly recommended that parents desist from using them for sleep, and only use them for supervised, awake play time.


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