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Businesses marketing cribs with potentially hazardous items

If you've perused online or in stores for cribs and crib bedding, you are probably seeing marketing that sends mixed messages.

ADA COUNTY -- Are you in the market for a crib or crib bedding? If so, are you finding tons of pictures and set-ups of cribs with a bunch of stuff inside?

Experts have said for years don't put anything inside your baby's crib - especially newborns' cribs - because of the risks. So KTVB wanted to know: Why are businesses marketing and selling them that way? If you've perused online or in stores for cribs and crib bedding, you are probably seeing marketing that sends mixed messages.

Bare is best, and nothing but a tightly fitted sheet on a mattress pad should go inside a crib.

"Simple, easy and safe," St. Luke's Director of Children's Community Education and Advocacy, Sherry Iverson, said. "It's repeating the message time and time again."

To prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, and suffocation, experts warn parents against adding anything in a crib that could be deadly.

"We tell them you know this really tight-fitting mattress and put your baby just all by themselves in the middle of the bed and it looks kind of stark and you're like, woah, wait a minute. So you go to a store or on Pinterest or you go online and there's big puffy comforters and it looks like you're supposed to cover your babies in the big blankets and there's a pillow for your baby and it's got a matching stuffed animal or two," Iverson said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and experts and advocates like Iverson say all of that - plus crib bumpers, which are those pieces of padded fabric that tiw around the wooden slats of cribs - can pose entrapment and suffocation risks. But when parents go to look at cribs, they often find them decorated with all of, if not some of, those items. Health care and consumer product safety professionals say it's a wonder why stores would even sell fluffy crib bedding and bumpers - let alone stage cribs with them.

"Even though there's probably somewhere in their stores some information about what safe sleep environments are, they're not modeling what we would like them to model," Iverson added.

Babies R' Us, for instance, is modeling cribs with all that added stuff. The corporation sent 7 Investigates a statement saying:

"While we feature crib bumpers in our in-store displays and in online images, these items are sold separately and offered as an option for those parents with older children in particular. It is also worth noting that we leverage our relationships with and information from the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association and Consumer Product Safety Commission, to keep both our teams and customers informed and assist with nursery purchase decisions."

"Somewhere we lose that message when you put that baby in that bed kick out all of that," Iverson told KTVB.

7 Investigates also checked out a local Target and Target.com. They don't stage their cribs with those items in store, but online they do have a crib bedding section advertising pillows, stuffed animals and comforters. However, they are not pictured in the crib itself, and Target says that's because "safety is our number one priority at Target and we adhere to strict policies for all baby and crib images". They also add, "we have safety language on crib sets in stores and online and our imagery follows strict guidelines".

Bedding sets 7 Investigates found at major box stores like Walmart do have safety warnings on packaging saying "prevent possible strangulation or entanglement. never use crib sheet unless it fits securely on crib mattress" and "to prevent suffocation, don't place a child to sleep on top of quilts, comforters or other soft bedding".

"Things have changed tremendously," Iverson said. "It's really that education and it has to come down to parents that say, you know, what this is the choice I'm going to make."

Iverson says the child review team found in 2015 there were 21 diagnosed SIDS deaths and five additional 'unexplained sleep environment' deaths in Idaho.