'Be Healthy, Stay Healthy' Issue 12: Safe Sleep
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A new baby can be challenging to navigate, and one of the most important things for a new baby is a safe sleep environment. Babies often sleep just for short periods of time and parents of newborns may not expect the sleep deprivation this period brings upon them. Desperate for sleep, parents often turn to unsafe sleep environments. Unfortunately, this can lead to catastrophic consequences and result in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Unfortunately, every year close to 4000 infants die from unsafe sleep environments.
Here are some tips to make sure your baby’s sleep environment is a safe one:
Baby should always sleep alone. Bed-sharing is not recommended. The safest place for a baby to sleep is the same room as their caregiver but on a separate sleep surface. You can place the crib or bassinet next to the parent’s bed.
Place baby on their back to sleep and tummy to play. When they are old enough to flip on their tummies, you do not need to flip them back however continue placing them on their back so they always start off there.
Use a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards. Avoid soft surfaces, co-sleepers, and positioning pillows. Provide your baby with a firm sleep space. Keep cribs empty. This includes avoiding blankets, crib bumpers, pillows or stuffed animals.
Avoid smoke exposure. Studies have shown that having an immediate family member who smokes increases the risk of SIDS
Breastfeeding, room sharing, and pacifier use have all been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS as well. However, avoid any strings or attachments on the pacifier as those can be a strangulation hazard.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released new infant sleep guidelines for the first time in 2016. These guidelines specifically call out avoiding the use of cars seats and strollers as routine sleeping environments as well as the risk associated with bed and surface sharing. Co-sleeping, commercial heart monitors, and inclined/wedged surfaces are also not recommended. Additionally, parental behaviors such as breastfeeding and room sharing are discussed as a means of lowering the risk of sleep-related deaths.