Ruth to the Rescue: Hidden camera baby bumpers investigation

Investigation finds salespeople still urging customers to buy baby bumpers despite warnings from experts

DETROIT - While it is legal to sell baby bumpers, pediatric experts agree they're unnecessary and potentially dangerous. So, why did our hidden
cameras find salespeople still urging customers to buy them?

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more babies are suffocating while sleeping. Experts warn parents to keep cribs empty, but some stores that sell baby products might be sending mixed messages.

Hidden Camera Investigation At Top Stores

Our producers took undercover cameras into popular stores in Metro Detroit seeking advice about baby bumpers.

One salesperson responded with, "I know there is different controversy out there, but it's kind of up to the person. I'm not allowed to say whether its good
or not."

Kristen Pelshaw is the chair of the Beaumont Health System's Infant Sleep Task Force.

"In the past, bumper pads were made to prevent babies from having some entrapment because of the slat width of the cribs," Pelshaw said.

According to Pelshaw, the size of crib slats is strictly regulated and instead of baby bumpers protecting babies, it's just putting them at risk. "If anything they have posed hazards for entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation," Pelshaw said.

Our expert said that all that should be in the crib, is just a fitted sheet, the baby, and its sleepwear.

The Today Show recently did its own investigation. It showed store employees giving bad advice about baby bumpers. Ruth to the Rescue wondered if stores in our area got the message about sleep safety.

Metro-Detroit Stores Tested

An employee at a Babies "R" Us at the Macomb Mall said, "For the newborn you can do the bumper, I mean, to me it seems more reasonable that you put it in when they're newborns because they're not going to roll into it."

That is the opposite of what our sleep safety expert tell us. Pelshaw said she has seen babies who can move within those first couple weeks of life, and have turned 180 degrees around in their own cribs.

And here's the advice our producers received from an employee at the Target at Gratiot and 15 Mile, "You got to have the bumper guard-- the blanket? the ruffle? You got to have the sheets and the bumper guard."

When we showed our undercover video to Kristen Pelshaw of the Infant Sleep Task Force, she said she was disappointed, "I would want to make sure that employees are educated on the fact that bumper pads are no longer recommended."

Ruth to the Rescue told both Target and Babies "R" Us about the investigation and undercover video. Both stores said that educating their employees is a priority.

Target sent a statement that read in part, "We continually evaluate our team member training and have been in the process of developing more in-depth training for the infant and toddler section."

Babies "R" Us echoed the sentiment in its statement, saying, "We have taken this opportunity to retrain employees on this matter."

Where We Found the Best Advice

The employee that offered the best and most accurate advice, was at the Buy Buy Baby on M-59 and Schoenherr. She told our producers, "Nothing has been recalled, but it is not recommended to have anything in the crib."

A spokesperson for Buy Buy Baby told Ruth to the Rescue that signs warning consumers about potential dangers were posted in stores shortly after
the Today Show investigation.

The Ruth to the Rescue unit also checked with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A spokesperson said, "We are re-examining the marketing
and display of baby bumpers and other products with do not belong in a safe sleeping environment."

Like our pediatric expert, the CPSC says a bare crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep.

Here are a handful of links to websites with more safe sleeping information for your family:

Healthy Children

Consumer Reports

Keeping Babies Safe

Consumer Protection Safety Commission

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