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Safe Sleep for Babies

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Safe Sleep for Babies

 

Have you ever seen a cute crib in a store, with lots of stuffed animals and bumper pads and a beautiful, soft quilt inside?  While it may be cute, that crib is also potentially dangerous.  Babies can suffocate on soft materials like blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed animals.  Some products that seem safe may actually introduce even more risk to your baby, such as sleep positioners.

A baby's crib is a safe haven, a place that you can leave your baby while they sleep, and trust that they won't get hurt.  If we stayed up all night watching over our babies, we'd never get any sleep ourselves!  So how can we ensure that our babies are sleeping in the safest place possible?

  • Always place your baby in their crib or bassinet to sleep.  A play yard like a Pack and Play is also safe, as long as you only use the pad that came with it, and a sheet that fits that pad.
  • Your baby's crib should contain two things--a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib, and a crib sheet.
  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
  • Don't ever place your baby on an adult bed or waterbed, a couch, or a chair.  These surfaces are not safe for a baby because they are too soft and generally contain excessive bedding.  Also, a baby can be injured if they fall off of a bed, couch, or chair.
  • Don't use a drop side crib--if you have one, call the manufacturer to ask if they offer a kit to immobilize the drop side.
  • If you are able to purchase a new crib (after June 28, 2011), please do so.  Crib standards are now tougher, and cribs sold after June 28th, 2011, are safer for babies.
  • Get rid of all excessive bedding--there should not be bumper pads, stuffed animals, a pillow, a sleep positioner, or a quilt. 
  • Dress your baby in sleepwear that will keep them at a comfortable temperature throughout the night.  Don't overdress your baby in pajamas that are too warm, as overheating may increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Don't allow anyone to smoke in your home, or anywhere around your baby.
  • It's best to have your baby's crib in your bedroom if possible for the first 6 months. 
  • Don't allow your baby to sleep in their car seat, swing, or infant sling.  They might not slouch down and their airway might not stay completely open.  If you carry your baby in from the car and they are sleeping, place their car seat on the floor until you are able to remove them and place them in their crib.  Babies can suffocate quickly and silently if their car seat is placed on a soft surface, like a mattress, and the car seat tips over. 
  • Bed-sharing, or co-sleeping, is a controversial topic, but research has shown that babies placed on their backs in a safe crib or bassinet are the least likely to die or be injured.  This is an excerpt of a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding this issue:

"It is acknowledged that there are some cultures for which bed-sharing is the norm and SIDS rates are low, but there are other cultures for which bed-sharing is the norm and SIDS rates are high. In general, the bed-sharing practiced in cultures with low SIDS rates is often different from that in the United States and other Western countries (eg, with firm mats on the floor, separate mat for the infant, and/or absence of soft bedding). It is statistically much more difficult to demonstrate safety (ie, no risk) in small subgroups. Breastfeeding mothers who do not smoke and have not consumed alcohol or arousal-altering medications or drugs are 1 such subgroup. Furthermore, not all risks associated with bed-sharing (eg, parental fatigue) can be controlled. The task force, therefore, believes that there is insufficient evidence to recommend any bed-sharing situation in the hospital or at home as safe. In addition, there is no evidence that devices marketed to make bed-sharing “safe” (eg, in-bed cosleepers) reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or are safe. Such devices, therefore, are not recommended."

Please check out these sites for more information on safe sleep for infants and reducing the risk of SIDS for your baby:

www.aap.org

www.kidsindanger.org

www.sids.org