KIDS
November 17, 2016

Keeping Sleeping Babies Safe

New guidelines to guard against sudden infant death suggest that babies are safer in your room.

Sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, is every new parent's nightmare. What causes an infant to die while asleep may be due to any number of factors. We do know that the risk of SIDS is much greater depending on a baby’s sleep position and what else is in the bed with him, including his parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some new recommendations designed to reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome and make babies' sleep safer.

Babies should share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface.

“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” said Rachel Moon, lead author of the statemen. “Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous.”

The AAP estimates that about 3,500 infants die each year from sleep-related causes. Besides SIDS, babies may die from suffocation from blankets or strangulation or entrapment by other items in their cribs. The AAP's main recommendations to reduce the risk of any kind of death while sleeping are:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Babies should share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby is 12 months old, but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
  • Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • The AAP also recommends that parents not bundle or clothe their babies too heavily, since overheating has been linked to SIDS. They suggest no more than one extra layer than an adult would be comfortable in, and to check babies for signs of overheating, like sweating or feeling hot to the touch. There is also a much higher risk of SIDS when the baby sleeps next to a smoker, even if he or she isn’t smoking in bed. Sleep positioners have also been linked to higher risk of SIDS, so it’s best to avoid these and any other objects in the crib.

    Don't bundle or clothe babies too heavily, since overheating has been linked to SIDS. Use no more than one extra layer than an adult would be comfortable in.

    And the AAP says to try to make sure you don’t accidentally fall asleep with your baby while feeding, since that can also pose a risk of suffocation. “If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” said author, Lori Feldman-Winter. “If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.”

    Doctors and nurses should regularly emphasize these healthy sleep recommendations with new parents. More research needs to be done to understand exactly why SIDS happens in the first place, since many elements are unknown. While that’s taking place, it’s a good idea to follow the guidelines whenever possible. You may want to snuggle with your baby as much as you can, but the research shows that having him or her sleep separately is far safer.

    The report is published in the AAP journal Pediatrics.

    COMMENTS
    NOTE: We regret that we cannot answer personal medical questions.
    LATEST NEWS
    Infections
    Bad News, Boomers
     
    FOLLOW US
    © 2016 interMDnet Corporation.