Can We Please Stop Promoting Unsafe Sleep “For The Photo”?


The principles of safe infant sleep, which include never putting a blanket or stuffed animal in the crib, are becoming widespread common knowledge, but parents are still posting photos of unsafe sleep environments because they’re just so cute. It’s time for us to start promoting safe sleep instead.

Education on Safe Sleep Is Not Lacking

Coming home from the hospital post-birth, you pretty much have BACK IS BEST tattooed on your forehead. Stuffed into the bag that was once neatly packed and prepared for your stay, lies a sheet of paper reminding you yet again about the ABC’s of Safe Sleep: A baby should sleep Alone, on its Back, in a Crib. No blankets, crib bumpers or stuffed animals in the crib. Nothing hanging over the edge. No hat. Just diaper, pajamas, swaddle, and pacifier. 

The recent recalls of unsafe sleepers and the outlawing of crib bumpers exemplify how important it is to follow these guidelines. 

Moms Are Staging Unsafe Sleep Set-Ups Because They Look Cute…What?

Despite growing public knowledge, I still see women on Instagram posting nursery photos featuring cutesy bumpers, cozy blankets, and adorable teddy bears. At first I thought to myself,  Don’t they know this stuff is unsafe? Didn’t their doctors drive the point home like mine did? But after reading through the comments, I’m starting to understand. 

Here’s what I’m realizing: these moms absolutely know. They’re well educated and they care about their baby’s well-being. They practice safe sleep.

Wait, what? 

When asked about all those scary stuffed animals and threatening blankets, posters respond with something like, “Ohhhh those are just for the photo! I remove them when I actually put the baby down at night.” 

I have a problem with this. Sharing images of unsafe sleep practices is promoting unsafe sleep. Visual appeal on social media is one of the most powerful marketing strategies out there right now. Others consume what we feed them. So I believe it’s highly irresponsible to represent online something that shouldn’t be done, especially when you’re fully aware of the potential danger. 

Let’s Change the Narrative

Instead of curating unsafe setups because they’re nice to look at, let’s develop adorable images of safe sleep. We need to share photos of our charming little burrito-swaddled newborns lying on their backs on a flat surface. If you want to show off your nursery, get a soft cotton sleep sack with a delightful pattern and match it to the crib sheet. Invest in a beautiful crib and pretty curtains. There’s no reason why bumpers need to “make the picture”. In fact, the only reason it seems that way is because that’s what we’ve seen for so long. Let’s change that! Let’s promote safe sleep by making it cute and using our power to make its aspects part of the “token nursery”. 

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