Mother Starts Organization to Ban Supplemental Playpen Mats after Losing Son

We talk a lot about sleep safety, and for good reason! Unsafe sleeping habits have life-threatening implications for infants. But as Joyce Davis knows, it goes so much further than just following the rules and recommendations.

On the shelves of stores and in magazine pictures, you’ll find all kinds of unsafe crib accessories – quilts, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, supplemental mattresses for playpens, and so much more. Joyce lost her son because of one of these items, and that’s exactly why she started up an organization to have at least one of these products banned from ever being sold again.

lotus playard with it's original mattress

Lotus Playard with it’s original mattress

Joyce had purchased a supplemental mattress – a thicker one that she says was advertised as suitable for the playpen she had. But one morning, while visiting family, she awoke to find her son, Garret, had suffocated while sleeping in the playpen.

“Garret suffocated because of the supplemental mattress,” Joyce said. “There were no warning labels advising us against using these products together.”

The non-profit advocacy group Joyce founded, Keeping Babies Safe, has made a lot of progress – they’ve managed to have changes made to the mandatory hazard labels listed on play yards that advise parents to ONLY use the mattress that comes with the product. But retailers and manufacturers are still selling and offering the exact same mattresses that the warnings say parents shouldn’t use.

Joyce wants them banned completely.

Although it is a parent’s responsibility to carefully read any warning labels attached to or enclosed with baby products, manufacturers make it really confusing. With at least 21 incidents of suffocations from supplemental mattresses reported on CPSC data between 2000 and 2013, there is no room for confusion.

“All of these incidents involve a child being wedged between gaps created when a supplemental mattress was added to a play yard or portable crib,” Keeping Babies Safe said in a petition to the CPSC to have the supplemental mattresses reviewed.

Thankfully, it appears that one of the retailers, Buy Buy Baby, stopped offering the supplemental mattresses. But there are still others out there with the supplemental mattresses on their shelves. A spokeswoman for the company, Kathleen Waugh, responded to’s inquiries about the mattresses.

“We require that every product we carry meets or exceeds all applicable state and federal laws, industry standards, codes, and requirements,” Waugh told Karin Price Mueller from “We are closely monitoring ongoing discussions and emerging information on the issue of supplemental mattress use and do not carry these mattresses in our stores.”

But Joyce learned otherwise, and so did Karin.

They found the mattresses being sold online. Joyce went to a Babies R Us in Raritan on July 13th and came out with a photo of the Dream On Me porta-crib pad. Toys R Us responded by saying that the Dream On Me is classified as a pad, not as a mattress, and then referred back to its original statement. But Joyce says that, while the product may meet industry standards, the mandatory warning label on all playpens say not to use this product. She considers this a pretty serious problem.

“This pad sold at Toys R Us directly violates the intent of the play yard,” she said. “Consumers aren’t reading [the] warning label because companies are marketing a purported comfortable mattress right next to the play yard that shouldn’t be used. We don’t need more written warnings. Consumers need a total ban on supplemental mattresses.”

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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