A new study published this month in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), showed that many moms in the United States don’t observe the recommended safe infant sleep guidelines, which help lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The study, which involved more than 34,000 moms in the U.S., assessed the frequency the moms followed the four safe infant sleep guidelines. These were:
- placing their babies to sleep on their backs
- putting their babies to sleep in a crib or other safe sleep surface
- sharing a room but not a bed with their babies
- keeping their babies’ sleeping area free from soft objects and loose bedding
The researchers found that only 57% did not share a bed with their babies, only 42% kept soft objects and bedding away from their babies’ sleeping area, and only 32% placed their babies in cribs or similar safe sleep surfaces during bedtime. Moms who put their babies to sleep on their backs came at 78%.
What to Expect also reports that when the moms were informed by doctors about safe sleep recommendations, they were only 12 to 28% more likely to follow those guidelines.
As Romper points out, the findings of this study are not meant to shame moms but to shed light on how healthcare providers can help parents become more aware of how to keep their babies safe when they’re asleep.
Ashley H. Hirai, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tells SheKnows there is still plenty of room for improvement in practicing safe infant sleep guidelines.
Dr. Hirai also says, “The bottom line is to raise awareness about these better sleep recommendations. And so we just want to hit that home that the safest place for babies to sleep is on their back, on a separate [approved crib, bassinet or pack and play], without any soft bedding and that they should be in the same room as caregivers.”
The AAP’s recommendations for infant sleep safety include the following:
- Put your baby to sleep on his back (for naptime and at night) until his first birthday.
- Use a firm sleep surface that meets safety standards. The surface should not indent when your baby is lying on it.
- Make sure your baby’s sleep surface is free from objects that can increase the risk of strangulation, suffocation, or entrapment (e.g., loose bedding, blankets, soft toys).
- Keep your baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first six months (or, ideally, the first year). The AAP says bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies.
While the guidelines provided by the AAP can be very helpful for parents, if you have any concerns regarding your baby’s sleep safety, it is always best to talk to your pediatrician.
Read more about the AAP's safe infant sleep recommendations here.