Until now, about 3,500 infants -- mostly babies under 6 months of age -- around the world die from sleep-related causes. While the number of cases has declined, we still have a long way to go to until all babies everywhere are safe in their sleep.
With this goal in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their safe sleep practices recommendations. Updated from 2011, the new guidelines incorporates 63 new studies as well as clinical reports on the benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborns. Apart from putting babies on their backs to sleep until they turn a year old to prevent choking aspiration, there are so many other things that parents can do to ensure that baby sleeps safe and sound.
We've highlighted the top three recommendations of AAP when it comes to your baby's safe sleep. Read and tell us what you think:
#1 Do away with soft beddings "Everybody thinks if it’s soft, then it can’t hurt the baby. But soft bedding is actually really a problem because it’s so soft they sink into it. People will often use pillows to 'cushion' the babies, and babies sink into them," said Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., F.A.A.P., lead author of the statements and chair of the Task Force on SIDS in the AAP news report. This builds on the earlier recommendations that the only thing that should be in your baby's sleeping space is a tight-fitting mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Nothing else -- no bumper pads, no pillows, no blankets, no stuffed animals -- just the crib, the mattress and the baby.
#2 Say no to bed sharing, but share a room with baby. "Some parents think if baby is right next to them, they can tell if there is a problem...and protect the baby," Dr. Moon said. "The safest place for the baby to sleep in is in a crib, a bassinet, or a playpen which is separate from where the parent is sleeping,” she stressed. The AAP, however, recommends that babies should sleep in their parents' room until they are 1 year old or at least their first six months. According to the report, room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. AA also reminded parents not to place babies on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or with another person.
Remember the ABCs of safe sleep: Afor the baby sleeping alone, B for back-sleeping and C for sleeping in an uncluttered crib (or play-yard or bassinet).
#3 Breastfeed your baby. Nursing your baby reduces his or her risk of SIDS by about 50 percent, according to Michael H. Goldstein, M.D., F.A.A.P., a neonatologist and SIDS task force member. However, the policy also warns of the dangers of falling asleep while feeding the baby.
"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 Lori Feldman-Winter, M.D., F.A.A.P., member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report. "If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed."
Apart from the ABCs of safe sleep, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin care, AAP also recommends upervised tummy time while the infant is awake. Swaddling does not reduce the risk for SIDS. If a baby is swaddled, he has to be placed in the crib on his back. Also, wedges and sleep positioners does not help prevent SIDS. “A lot of parents think there is a proactive agency that checks all of [SIDS-prevention-type] products before they go on the market, like an ‘FDA’ for SIDS products. But there isn’t,” Dr. Moon says.
Home cardiorespiratory monitors also does not help reduce SIDS risk. Remember, no product can prevent SIDS. Only the constant vigilance of parents when following these safe sleep practice can help reduce sleep-related infant deaths.
You can read the complete list of the new AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines here.