We know that caring for your baby and keeping him or her safe is your top priority. We also understand that sometimes financial hardships, housing issues and lack of resources don’t allow for creating a completely safe sleep environment for your baby. We also realize that term “safe sleep” might be confusing.
Below are the most important things you should know about safe sleep.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents – but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface — to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths.
In fact, room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
Breastfeeding is also recommended as adding protection against SIDS. After feeding, the AAP encourages parents to move the baby to his or her separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents’ bedroom.
New AAP Safe Infant Sleep guidelines added for 2016 include the following:
- Infants should share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS as much as 50 percent.
- An infant should be placed on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. The crib should be otherwise bare.
- Avoid soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. While infants are at heightened risk for SIDS between the ages of 1 and 4 months, new evidence shows that soft bedding continues to pose hazards for babies at age 4 months and older.
- Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. If at all possible, mothers should breastfeed exclusively or feed with expressed milk for at least 6 months.
- Skin-to-skin care is recommended for all mothers and newborns, immediately following birth, for at least an hour, provided that the mother is awake and medically stable.
- Home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS should not be used. Similarly, while there are now Consumer Product Safety Commission safety standards for bedside sleepers, and no safety standards for in-bed sleepers, the AAP cannot make a definitive recommendation for or against either product.
- Infants should never be left to sleep on sofas, armchairs or in sitting devices.
In addition to new guidelines, the AAP maintains the following recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation:
- Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bed time as soon as breastfeeding is established.
- Give baby supervised, awake tummy time daily to help strengthen neck, arm and shoulders muscles.