Baby Gear Your Pediatrician Hopes You’ll Avoid, Part 2!

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October has arrived! While many of us are planning pumpkin patch visits, Halloween costumes and gearing up for Thanksgiving, October also means it’s officially Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. A topic close to every pediatrician’s heart. So, let’s talk baby gear safety.

In a previous contribution for this collective, I shared the fundamentals of SIDS guidance and a related list of not-so-safe infant sleep-related items which you can find here. If you’re itching for more, check out the NIH’s Safe to Sleep site. A super helpful and thorough resource for any caregiver.

Okay, SIDS awareness shout-out complete! Now, onto the next order of business. More baby gear your pediatrician prefers off your registry. As I touched on in previously, I created this list a few years ago while super pregnant and building my own registry. I realized first-hand just how much baby gear confusion and misinformation is out there. So, we continue!

Rolling Baby Walkers

As an old millennial, my parents’ photo albums definitely include pictures of us kiddos hanging out in rolling walkers. Times have changed. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, between the years of 1990 and 2014, 200,000 children 15 months and younger ended up in ERs in the United States for walker-related injuries. Many due to rolling down the stairs, burns or poisonings from reaching higher objects, and drowning.

What about learning to walk? Contrary to popular belief, walkers have not been shown to help children learn to walk. In fact, evidence suggests they can actually delay when a child starts walking.

Although newer regulations have helped decrease injury rates, about 2,000 children still wind up in U.S. ERs each year.

Not surprisingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for a ban on the sale and manufacture of baby walkers.

Teething Necklaces

Teething necklaces have gained popularity over the past few years. Unfortunately, they are unsafe and have not been found to be effective at easing teething-related pain.

Often times, these necklaces are made of amber, wood or silicone. Retailers of amber necklaces claim that a pain-relieving compound with anti-inflammatory properties is absorbed through the skin after the amber warms to body temperature. Studies show no evidence to suggest that this is true.

Due to the risk of strangulation and choking, the FDA issued an official warning in 2018 advising against the use of teething necklaces. Because suffocation is the leading cause of death in children under 1, the AAP recommends against the use of necklaces in infants, as well.

Home Apnea Monitors

Home Apnea Monitors track a baby’s heart rate and breathing. When a baby stops breathing briefly or if heart rate slows, an alarm goes off. While it may seem that such monitoring would support safe sleep, evidence suggests that home apnea monitors give little or no added SIDS protection. Research actually hasn’t shown a clear link between SIDS and apnea.

There are rare cases when doctors may recommend apnea monitors for infants with home oxygen requirements or respiratory issues. But they are generally not recommended for use with healthy newborns. Furthermore, these monitors often produce false alarms which can contribute to parent fear and anxiety.

And since we’ve circled back, PROVEN ways to reduce the risk of SIDS include placing babies on their backs on a firm mattress in their own crib and near a parent’s bed. To further reduce the chance of limited oxygen-rich air, remove fluffy items including pillows, extra blankets, stuffed animals and bumpers.

Alright mamas, although the list goes on, that’s it for now! Until next time, keep those babies safe!

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Paras is an Iranian American, born in Tehran and raised in Texas. She is now pleased to call Colorado home. She is the mother of two rambunctious boys, a wife to an equally rambunctious husband (genetics!) and a pediatrician. Paras attended medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and went on to complete her pediatric residency training at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Her special interests include childhood advocacy, healthcare education, and she absolutely loves working with new parents. After having children of her own, she quickly realized that raising kiddos was not as straightforward as many pediatric medical texts or parenting books might imply! She has found it extremely fulfilling to navigate the challenging, yet rewarding world of being a working mom alongside her patients and peers. In her spare time, Paras enjoys hiking, embroidery and is an aspiring yogi on the journey to attaining and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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