Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a DockATot? - Evidence Based Babies
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can baby sleep in dock a tot

Is it safe for a baby to sleep in a DockATot?

If you’re a new mom or if you’re new parents, or just being new to so many new baby inventions, it may also be the first time you hear about sleep nests and pods and you may be wondering whether it’s safe for your baby to sleep in those cute DockATot products.

I get why it’s such a popular product, they are extremely cute, available in different colors and themes, babies looking all cozy and cuddly in that adorable soft product. So many people are buying and using DockATots, and you may have been recommended one or one has even been gifted to you.

But is it safe? Does it pose a suffocation risk? Does it increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? These are the real questions that you should be asking. Because in the end, cute will never trump safe. We all just want our babies to be happy and safe.

What is a DockATot?

DockATot’s, often referred to as a baby pod, a baby nest or a Sleepyhead, is a specially designed cushioned mat used to support and protect a baby when they need to be put down. It has become a very popular baby product in recent years.

They are absolutely gorgeous, coming in different colors and themes. They’ve quickly become a very popular trend, but with this, people started mistaking it for an actual safe sleep space for babies, which it’s not.

Why are DockATots considered unsafe for infants to sleep in?

DockATots are not safe sleep approved. It’s not recommended, and it’s well known to increase the risk of both suffocation and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

DockATots are soft, plush nest or pod like a bed. If a baby were to roll onto their side, there is a significant increase in the risk of suffocation due to the soft sides of the DockATot which isn’t made from breathable materials. Babies often don’t have the motor skills or neck control to lift or turn their head out of bedding like that. The bed is small, and the materials are very soft and not breathable, both considered risks to your baby.

Safe sleep guidelines recommend that a firm mattress is used and there should be no bumpers or soft bedding and pillows that could increase a baby’s risk of suffocation, which is clearly a risk with products like this.

There have been a few deaths associated with DockATots reported and the use of this product should be at the parents own risk.

DockATots do not meet the consumer product safety commissions’ (CPSC) safety standards, and despite the CPSC raising concerns and even issuing a notice of violation on the selling of these unsafe products, the company has continued selling them.

Although the company did start attaching a warning label to their products, warning parents not to let their babies sleep in their products, it often goes unseen.

An important reminder, the company does state that their products are not to be used for sleep or while unsupervised. 

When and how can DockATots be used safely?

According to DockATot’s website, they also do not recommend their product as a place for babies to sleep safely. Rather just a soft, cushioned space for your baby to lie in while being actively supervised.

Claim on the while being actively supervised. You should never let your baby sleep in a DockATot or a similar product and you should never leave your baby unsupervised in it, even if it’s just for a minute or two. A lot can happen in just a few seconds.

You can use it while actively playing, talking, reading and singing to your baby. A nice and soft place to put your baby in while you’re with them.

As an exhausted new parent, we can easily fall asleep by accident thanks to those sleepless nights. So always have a safe sleep environment and a safe play environment fir your baby, using breathable materials when and where necessary.

Alternatives to DockATots

Bassinets

Bassinets are beds designed specifically for babies from birth to around 4 months of age.

Babies can be left here while you need to do something for a while and it’s safe enough for your baby to sleep in during both the day and the night.

Make sure to have a flat and firm mattress and no loose bedding, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in there with your baby.

Pack n plays

Pack n plays or portable baby sleep spaces, are often used for traveling, but many people use it as a permanent play or sleep space for their babies.

When used with a firm mattrass while following safe sleep guidelines, pack n plays can be a safe alternative to a basinet and/or crib. This may be especially suitable when finances may not allow for other sleep spaces.

A mat

A firm mat on the ground can be a great playground for your baby. Perfect for some tummy time and some playtime. This isn’t suitable for your baby to sleep on, and although much safer than a DockATot, your baby should always be actively supervised while playing on a mat or anywhere else.

Babywearing

Do you need to get things done but need somewhere safe to put your baby? Why not babywear?

Babywearing is where you carry your baby on your body by means of using a wrap or a carrier.

You have your hands free; your baby is happy and content to be with their mom and can and often do take some naps while being worn by their mothers. You know your baby is safe with you. Everyone wins.

Safe bedsharing

Despite what the sleep industry tells parents, bedsharing is biologically normal for humans to do. Your baby is born expecting to bed share with you, you’ll get more sleep in, and yes, your baby can be safe sleeping with you if done correctly.

Following the safe seven sleep by La Leche League International (LLLI) will help you bedshare with your baby in the safest way possible.

Cribs/cots

If safe bedsharing is not possible, bassinets and cribs/cots are the next best thing for your baby to safely sleep in.

Remember to follow safe sleep guidelines, only using a flat and firm mattress and fitted sheets with no loose blankets, pillows, crib/cot bumpers or stuffed animals inside with the baby.

Safe sleep guidelines

Breastfeed if possible.

– Infants should be placed on their backs for sleep.

– Babies should sleep on a flat surface and a firm surface such as a crib, bassinet or portable play yard with a firm, flat mattress and a fitted sheet.

– Avoid having your baby sleep on a couch or armchair or in a seating device, like a swing or incar seats (except while riding in the car).

– The use of crib bumpers is not recommended, even if it states that it’s breathable or a safe sleep product. A bare crib offers the most secure sleep space for your baby.

– Keep loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animal toys and other soft items out of your baby’s sleep space.

Safe bedsharing guidelines

can baby sleep in dock a tot

– Don’t smoke to reduce any risk of SIDS to your baby.

– It is recommended that a mother who bedshares with her baby is also exclusively breastfeeding when possible.

– The mother should not be under the influence of any drugs, alcohol or sedative medications.

– You and your baby should be sleeping on a flat and firm mattress with a fitted sheet.

– The baby should be sleeping on their back with the mother in the c curl position.

– There should be no loose things in the bed with you such as untied hair, cords, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or anything else.

– Your baby should be full-term and healthy.

– Do not use a swaddle blanket when you bedshare.

Important notes on the use of DockATots

DockATots are gorgeous, but they are expensive, and they can be dangerous. If you do want to use one, be sure to only use it while actively supervising your baby.

DockATots and similar baby nests and pods are not safe for babies to sleep in and it’s not safe to leave your baby unsupervised in one of these products.

Babies have died in DockATots and similar products. Although it can be used safely, it should always be done with great caution and always under direct supervision.

Better alternatives to products like these include bassinets, cribs, pack n plays (used safely) and even just putting your baby on a flat and firm mat on the ground.

Babywearing is the best option for most if you need to get things done with a baby, as we all know, babies just want to be close to their mothers.

Safe co-sleeping or bedsharing is often the best choice for many families, especially breastfeeding mothers and babies. It can be done safely, and it doesn’t cost a thing.

Always make sure your baby has a safe sleeping environment, whether they’ll be sleeping in a crib or in the bed with you. Minimize all the risks to your baby. Making sure you do this will give you a great piece of mind.

Additional information and resources

DockATot safety guidelines

RedNose Australia DockATots recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) safe sleep guidelines

Dockatot Deluxe+ is Unsafe for Sleep; CPSC Issues Notice of Violation

More Infant Sleep Products Linked to Deaths, a Consumer Reports Investigation Finds

The Safe Sleep Seven recommendations for safe bedsharing by La Leche League International (LLLI)

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