Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock Review: Not Recommended

Last updated: Nov 26, 2017 @ 10:30 am. Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock Review: Not Recommended. Quick Summary:  We do not recommend the Crescent Womb Infant Safety Bed (and similar baby crib hammocks) because it does not meet safe sleep guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, in our opinion. Baby hammocks like this pose a serious safety hazard if detached from a crib or if a child rolls out of it.

This article is the fourth in our series “Unsafe for Sleep,” which investigates controversial new infant sleep products. First was an in-depth look at the DockATot, followed by the Baby Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. In the third posting, we looked at the baby box craze.

What is the Crescent Womb?

The Crescent Womb is a hammock designed to be attached to a crib. A baby is suspended in the hammock material over the mattress. It is sold online on Crescent Womb’s web site and on Amazon for $100.

Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock Review: Not Recommended. A post from the Crescent Womb's Instagram page, showing the baby hammock in action.

A post from the Crescent Womb’s Instagram page, showing the baby hammock in action.

The Crescent Womb is not the only crib hammock sold on the market today—we counted a dozen or so crib hammocks currently for sale on Amazon and other sites. This review focuses on the Crescent Womb because it is the best known of the crib hammocks. However, other crib hammocks (because they are designed to be used in a similar way) are just as concerning.

Crescent Womb: From KickStarter to Amazon Best Seller

Crescent Womb logoThe Crescent Womb debuted in August 2016 as part of a Kickstarter campaign that eventually raised $132,000. Inventor James Spencer, a self-described 25 year old surfer, was motivated by the birth of his daughter to create the Crescent Womb to help combat SIDS:

Traditional crib design can contribute to risks associated with early infancy and other suffocation hazards. Things like soft bedding and “CO2-trapping” objects, such as blankets, comforters, soft mattresses and toys can cause the baby to re-breathe carbon dioxide that they just exhaled. Crescent Womb eliminates the need to swaddle or add any unnecessary materials to the sleeping environment, limiting the risk that these items add. Injury can also result from limbs getting wedged in between crib railings and over heating from excessive blankets or mattress material.

Calling the Crescent Womb an “infant safety bed,” the company claimed 990 backers to its KickStarter project (the number of Crescent Wombs sold is less than that, since some backers pledged small amounts and did not receive the product).

The company has been featured in articles on Fox News as well as local TV stations in Florida.

Here’s founder James Spencer discussing the inspiration behind the Crescent Womb (video downloaded from KickStarter):

 

 

 

How we tested the Crescent Womb

We purchased a Crescent Womb at full retail from Amazon.com. (FYI: We never take free product or monies from brands we review in order to maintain objectivity). We installed the Crescent Womb on a crib to evaluate its overall safety and design. We also examined the safety labels and instruction materials that came with the Crescent Womb.

Here’s a slideshow of our un-boxing of the Crescent Womb:

 

 

Why the Crescent Womb is unsafe: not flat, not firm

Extensive scientific research has gone into infant sleep safety and numerous peer-reviewed studies agree: babies should sleep on a flat, firm surface. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reaffirmed these guidelines in 2016:

Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.

By its very definition, a crib hammock is neither flat nor firm. Instead, the Crescent Womb keeps a newborn in a fetal position, which the company claims soothes and promotes “healthy development for babies.”

Experts disagree.

“Irrefutable medical evidence shows, without a doubt, that sleeping a baby on their back on a firm, flat, waterproof surface is one of the best things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS,’ stresses Christina Rolles of The Lullaby Trust (a UK SIDS prevention group) told the Daily Mail in an article on the Crescent Womb.

‘There is no evidence at all to support the claim that any product reduces SIDS, and according to the genuine medical evidence, such products could in fact increase the chances of a baby dying as they are not sleeping on a firm, flat surface,’ asserts the expert, who supports bereaved families of SIDS at the UK-based trust.

That’s right—the concern with any baby hammock is compromised breathing . . . or “cardiorespiratory compromise.” That’s why parents are urged not to leave their newborns in an infant car seat for prolonged periods of time. A 2016 UK study showed babies who sleep on an angle (such as would happen in a hammock) had “significant effects on newborns breathing and heart rates.”

The risk of putting baby to sleep in a reclined position isn’t theoretical. Sadly, an 11 week old baby died after being put to sleep in an infant car seat in 2015 at an Oklahoma day care.

Why the Crescent Womb is unsafe, part 2: rolling over?

The very design of the Crescent Womb—a hammock suspended over a crib—is dangerous, in our opinion. That’s because a baby can roll out of it with no warning . . . and then fall to the crib mattress below or worse yet, out of the crib itself.

The Crescent Womb’s instructions address this issue by warning parents to stop using it once baby “shows signs of being able to independently roll over.” There’s only one problem with that: babies learn to roll over with little or no notice to parents. Sometimes there is no “sign.” Our fear is such infants could become injured rolling out of a Crescent Womb.

Suppressing the startle reflex—and baby’s normal development?

One of the Crescent Womb’s purported benefits is to suppress a baby’s startle reflex. This is pitched as a benefit to parents: “Crescent Womb™ can help newborns self-soothe and prevent them from waking up due to the unique shape and function. As a result, you can expect a more restful sleep for both baby and parent.”

However, what baby hammocks do is prevent newborns and young infants from moving around—this can have a negative affect on a baby’s growth and development. We discussed this concern with another infant sleep product that aims to produce the same result, the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit.

Bottom line: your baby needs to move and roll in order to properly develop and grow. A baby hammock prevents this for the youngest infants.

Lessons from the 1980’s: The Crib Cuddle Recall

Baby hammocks and their dangers are not new. In 1985, a product called the “Crib Cuddle” was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after being linked to the death of a five-week old infant who was strangled by the product. There were also two other “near misses” attributed to the hammock.

The CPSC concluded: “The Crib Cuddle can be dangerous if an infant, in moving about, is able to reach the edge of the hammock and place his or her head over the edge possibly resulting in suffocation.”

Here’s what the Crib Cuddle looked like:

 

The Crib Cuddle as featured in a 1982 advertisement.

Look familiar? We believe the Crescent Womb presents the same danger as the Crib Cuddle, given its very similar design.

Chest to chin: dangerous, says the CPSC

The Crescent Womb’s own web site features pictures of babies in the Crescent Womb with their chin resting on their chest—and pictures like this have set off alarm bells among pediatricians and safety advocates.

 

Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock- Not Recommended chest to chin masked

This picture is from a complaint filed against the Crescent Womb by a doctor with the CPSC. The complaint can be found here: https://www.saferproducts.gov/ViewIncident/1587624

In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said the “chin to chest” position for infants “can interfere with breathing. When an infant is in the chin-to-chest position, suffocation can occur.”

In this case, the CPSC’s warning applied to infant slings, after 14 suffocation deaths were recorded over the past 20 years. However, the same “chin to chest” warning would apply to baby hammocks, according to safety advocates.

The Crescent Womb’s Kickstarter campaign prompted several health care professionals to raise questions about the product’s safety in reports to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One report said:

I am a pediatrician and worked for 4 years in a neonatal intensive care unit.

I am concerned about the Crescent Womb – a sleep hammock marketed towards infants. This infant sleep hammock increases the risk of infant death as the hammock promotes a chin-to-chest position (as shown in the manufacturer’s own pictures of the product). (emphasis ours).

There is also a risk of entrapment and/or strangulation as depending on the size of the crib used, the baby could roll and get its head stuck between the hammock and the side of the crib.

This product falsely claims to decrease the risk of SIDS, when in reality I am worried it will only increase the risk.

We asked the Crescent Womb to respond to this complaint. The company CEO and founder James Spencer emailed us that the report was “unfounded speculation” and questioned its authenticity. “The report in question is fraudulent and outdated, dating back to over a year ago. As this ‘reporting’ took place on an open, public forum we were not even able to verify the credibility of the individual. There is no name, no medical affiliation, and no contact information; simply a claim of ‘I am a pediatrician’.”

Update October 4: After we published this review, the doctor who filed the original complaint with the CPSC wrote in to identify herself. Here are her comments:

“I am the pediatrician who filed a report with the CPSC stating my concern about the risk for asphyxiation and strangulation with the Crescent Womb.

James Spencer’s claims that “The report in question is fraudulent and outdated, dating back to over a year ago. As this ‘reporting’ took place on an open, public forum we were not even able to verify the credibility of the individual. There is no name, no medical affiliation, and no contact information; simply a claim of ‘I am a pediatrician’.” To claim that my report is fraudulent or outdated is simply untrue.

What James Spencer also fails to mention is that I emailed him on 8/10/16 and he has never responded. Below is the full text of my email (notice it has my name and contact information as it was from my own email address)

I am a pediatrician and worked for 4 years in a neonatal intensive care unit.

I am very concerned about the Crescent Womb. This infant sleep hammock promotes a chin-to-chest position which is a known risk for infant death.

There is also a risk of entrapment and/or strangulation as depending on the size of the crib used, the baby could roll and get its head stuck between the hammock and the side of the crib.

This product claims to decrease the risk of SIDS, when in reality I am worried it will only increase the risk.”

No incidents?

Spencer pointed out that there have been no incidents or injuries with the Crescent Womb reported to the CPSC. “To date we have helped thousands of families by providing healthy development for their newborns and more sleep for parents.”

As a side note, notice anything strange about the crib pictured above? Yes, the side rail is missing! If the baby rolls out of the crib, there is a good chance of injury from falling to the floor. It’s shocking any company would use an image like this in their marketing (this photo appeared in the Crescent Womb Kickstarter campaign).

Update October 4: After we published this review, we heard from the mom whose baby is pictured above:

“I am the mother of a baby featured in your review. If you care to post the correct information feel free to contact me. Until then, you can remove my child, her position which was not chin to chest but rather her outfit pushing up on her tiny 7 day old body, and our crib that has a rail from your write up. For your information, I removed the rail to take a picture of the hammock aspect of the product. After the image was taken, her crib was put back together and life went on without a baby falling to the floor. 😱

We also don’t have bumpers in our crib, but since she was 7 days old, her bed was never used so her bumpers (decorations) were still present along with other soft items not recommended when putting a child to sleep in their own bed. You really reached on this one.”

To address the concerns about privacy, we have masked the baby’s face above. However, we decided to keep this picture on our site since it is cited in a report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is a matter of public record.

“Fully approved by the CPSC”? No, says the CPSC

The maker of the Crescent Womb rattles off a long list of “safety certifications and tests” on its web site.  To drive home the safety message, the Crescent Womb includes a card with the product that includes the logo from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to the right of “Reduce Risk Factors” messaging:

 

Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock-Not Recommended Review CPSC logo use.jpeg

 

On Crescent Womb’s web site, the company says the “Crescent Womb has been fully tested to CPSC, CCPSA and EU safety standards by third party labs.”

In an email to BabyBargains.com, Crescent Womb CEO James Spencer claimed the Crescent Womb is “fully approved” by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When asked about this claim, CPSC spokesperson Patty Davis said that was not true. “The CPSC does not pre-approve products,” she said in an email.

Safety loophole?

So what’s going on here? The answer: crib hammocks fall into a loophole in safety regulations.

There are no mandatory safety standards for crib hammocks, which are classified as an “infant inclined sleep product.” There is a voluntary safety standard for such products (called ASTM F3118-17) and the CPSC is working to cover crib hammocks under that standard. But as of this writing, crib hammocks fall into a loophole—they aren’t bassinets, cradles or cribs . . . all of which are covered under mandatory safety rules.

As a result, Crescent Womb’s safety certifications cover lesser safety regulations such as the sharp edges rule for toys (16 CFR 1500.51-53). Or flammability standards for textiles.

Using the logo of the Consumer Product Safety Commission on marketing materials makes it looks like the Crescent Womb is approved by the CPSC for infant sleep . . . which it is not.

Used in hospitals?

The Crescent Womb claims it is being used in neonatal intensive care units in hospitals. In an email to BabyBargains.com, Crescent Womb founder James Spencer said:

Crescent Womb is currently being used in Shriners Children’s Hospitals (by actual pediatricians) to increase the safety of babies in the NICU.

We asked for the name of a hospital using the Crescent Womb so we could verify the claim, Spencer responded:

“Unfortunately I cannot legally disclose customer contact information. But I can say that Crescent Womb is being used at their (Shriners) pediatric facility in Greenville, NC. Feel free to reach out independently to them.”

We contacted the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, NC to confirm this claim. As of press time, we haven’t received confirmation that this claim is true or false.

Questionable medical claims

In our opinion, Crescent Womb makes implied medical claims that it can prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) on its home page:

​Introducing the most innovative solution for healthy physical development, by reducing environmental factors associated with SIDS cases, Crescent Womb creates the safest environment for your baby outside of a parent’s arms.

Any baby product that claims to reduce SIDS is deemed a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But the FDA “has never cleared or approved a baby product to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS.” As of this writing, the Crescent Womb is not cleared by the FDA as a medical device that prevent SIDS. (In fact, no device has ever been approved by the FDA that can prevent SIDS).

In addition to SIDS, the maker of the Crescent Womb also implies it helps treat colic (uncontrolled crying that starts around two weeks and lasts under three or four months of age):

Does the Crescent Womb® help babies with colic?
The first few months of a baby’s life are a major transition and growth period. So much so it’s often referred to as the “fourth trimester.” Newborns are still very much adjusting to life outside the womb. To help them cope we re-created a womb-like environment. Supporting them with a soothing, familiar environment will also help soothe a colicky baby.

Again, this is bogus, in our opinion. There is no credible scientific evidence that sleeping in a hammock helps “soothe a colicky baby.”

When asked about these medical claims, Crescent Womb’s CEO James Spencer told BabyBargains.com via email that “Crescent Womb does not make any false claims. Crescent Womb does not claim to prevent SIDS as SIDS is an umbrella diagnosis when cause of death can not be determined and by default has no cure or prevention.”

The Take Home Message: We do NOT Recommend the Crescent Womb Infant Safety Bed

Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock Review: Not Recommended. We do not recommend the Crescent Womb Infant Safety Bed or any baby crib hammock. The safest place for your baby to sleep is on a firm, flat surface . . . and a baby hammock fails that test.

 

Crescent Womb Baby Crib Hammock Review- Not Recommended X-01