Infant inclined products and sudden death risks

Infant incline products are marketed for play, transport or sleep. Although these products may be marketed for sleep, they are unsafe for babies to sleep in.

Sleeping on an incline increases the risk of sudden death for babies from:

  • rolling into a position that blocks the airways
  • dropping their head onto their chest, which restricts their breathing.

When babies are left unsupervised and fall asleep in these products, they risk serious injury or sudden death.

It’s important to always follow instructions on how to use these products.

Download our infant incline product safety poster.

About the products

There are many products that are marketed for babies under 12 months old. Some of these products are advertised as products suitable for sleep, however they can be dangerous when used for sleep.

These products include:

  • infant incline products
  • infant sleep products
  • infant sleep related products.

Infant inclined products

Infant inclined products position babies at an inclined angle. These products can be designed for a mix of purposes including sleeping, playing, resting, or soothing a baby.

Some products that fall within this category include:

  • rockers
  • bouncers
  • swings
  • co-sleepers
  • recliners
  • bassinet-type products.

Other products, such as car seats, capsules or infant seats, may also be on an incline. More information about these products is available on Your First Steps and in the mandatory standard for child restraints.

Product example

Inclined sleeper/bouncer/rocker   Baby swing
Inclined sleeper
Baby bouncer
Infant swing

Infant sleep products

Infant sleep products are those marketed for babies to use for sleeping. They include products such as:

  • cots
  • folding cots
  • bassinets
  • cradles.

It’s important to use infant sleep products correctly and safely. Avoid creating any incline for sleeping when using these products. You can find more information about these products on the Your First Steps website, including tips and checklists for safe use. Before you purchase these products, you should also check:

Product example

Household cot Folding cot Bassinet
Household cot
Portable cot

Infant sleep related products

Infant sleep related products can be dangerous.

Infant sleep related products are marketed for sleep related purposes for babies. Some examples of these products include:

  • anti-roll pillows
  • sleep positioners
  • blankets
  • soft toys.

Product example

Baby lounger Baby hammock


Baby lounger
Baby hammock

Risks and injuries

These products have design features that can cause suffocation or positional asphyxiation.

The design features which pose a risk include the:

  • soft and padded surfaces
  • incline of the products
  • curve of the backrest.

Sleeping on an incline increases the risk of sudden death for babies from:

  • rolling into a position that blocks the airways
  • dropping their head onto their chest, which restricts their breathing. 

Based upon reports from Child Death Review and Prevention Groups between 2001 and 2021, we understand that 151 babies in Australia have died in inclined products such as rockers, bouncers, and on propped items.

At present, the ACCC estimates that the total number of baby fatalities in Australia associated with infant sleep products and inclined sleep products annually are:

  • around 3 baby fatalities per year for inclined sleep products
  • around 8 baby fatalities per year for infant sleep products (excluding inclined sleep products).

Soft and padded surfaces

Soft and padded surfaces can prevent babies from being able to self-correct if they roll over. Babies may not have enough strength to lift their heads to breathe.

Soft and padded surfaces conform to the shape of a baby’s head instead of remaining rigid. This increases the chance of suffocation and carbon dioxide rebreathing.

Soft sleep related products can cover a baby’s face and cause suffocation. For this reason, placing soft toys, pillows, or blankets in a baby’s sleeping area is not recommended.

Inclined products

Infant inclined products can cause positional asphyxiation.

If a baby’s head falls forward while in an inclined product, their chin can be pressed to their chest. This can cause their airways to become blocked and reduce oxygen flow.

A baby’s airflow can also become restricted if their face has partial or complete contact with the side of the product. This can reduce oxygen and lead to carbon dioxide rebreathing.

Products with a curved backrest

A baby’s face can become covered if they roll over in products with a curved back. This can cause suffocation.

Curvature in the back (seat portion) of a product increases the risk of suffocation when babies roll because their faces may be covered by the product and promotes the chin to chest position.

Use of infant incline or sleep products that have a curved back is not recommended.

These physical risks are heightened when:

  • these products are used in a baby's sleep environment – even when placed within a sleeping area such as a cot
  • babies are propped on these products
  • babies fall asleep on products that are intended to soothe or settle a baby
  • babies are not supervised when using these products
  • safe sleeping practices are not followed.

Use of infant inclined products

Often parents and carers are unaware of the risks associated with these products. If you use these products, it's important to follow the instructions to minimise these risks.

Red Nose safe sleep recommendations advise placing babies to sleep:

  • on a firm, flat surface
  • removing any loose items - such as blankets, soft toys, sleep aids and comforters.

Red Nose guidance also indicates that the risks are also a concern when spending long periods in car restraints (car seats, capsules or infant seats) and that once a car journey is over it is very important that you remove baby from the car seat or capsule, even if this means waking baby. We recommend consulting Red Nose’s recommendations for car seat use at: Are There Recommendations for Car Seat or Baby Seat Use?

Visit the ACCC’s Your First Steps website and Red Nose safe sleep recommendations for additional information and advice on safe sleeping practices.

Product safety standards

Currently, outside of the mandatory standard for cots and mandatory standard for folding cots, there are no existing mandatory or voluntary standards in Australia that apply to these products.

The ACCC has been working with industry and consumers since 2021 to address this issue. We published an Issues Paper and Consultation Paper outlining this work.

The outcome of this consultation was to develop a safety standard and an education campaign to help consumers and industry be aware of the product safety risks.

Infant inclined products sold in Australia may comply with international standards or regulations. International standards and regulations for these products have varying requirements. Some may require a safety warning that the product is not safe for unsupervised sleep by babies.

Suppliers selling infant inclined products

There are steps suppliers can take to minimise the risk of these products. They include:

  • providing warnings to consumers on potential risks associated with these products
  • providing instructions on how to use the product safely
  • reviewing infant inclined product lines to ensure they are safe for use
  • assessing whether a product could be misused and result in an increased risk of death or serious injury
  • make sure marketing and promotional material is consistent with safe sleep advice (see the Red Nose Safe Sleep Image Guide).

Read the best practice guide for the design of safe infant sleeping environments for further information.


Infant Inclined Products and Infant Sleep Products – Consultation Regulation Impact Statement

The ACCC has published a consultation paper seeking feedback on regulatory options to address the risks associated with Infant Sleep Products, including Infant Inclined Products.

Date published:
11 August 2022

ACCC launches Your First Steps to help parents keep their infant safe

Parents and carers can get the latest, most reliable information on best practices to keep their baby safe and unsafe products, as part of a new ACCC initiative.

Date published:

1 Aug 2022

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