Safe Sleep for Baby
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/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2020

Safe Sleep for Baby

The only thing new parents value more than a good night’s sleep is the safety of their child. Even so, every year 3,600 babies in the U.S.—including four to six infants in Vermont—die as a result of being put to sleep in an unsafe sleep environment or situation.

To help parents keep their little ones safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages them to first remember the “ABCs of safe sleep.” That is, babies should always sleep Alone, on their Back, in a Crib or bassinet.

While sharing a bed has appeal (especially when it comes to late night feedings), the reality is that sharing an adult bed is dangerous. Babies can be injured by tossing and turning parents or even fall off the bed. In addition, pillows and blankets could accidentally shift and smother your child. If proximity is important to you, place your baby’s bassinet or crib next to your bed for easy access and attention.

Always position your baby on their back. A baby—especially a newborn—placed on its side or stomach simply isn’t strong enough to reposition itself if something blocks its airway. Even once your child has learned to roll on their side or stomach by themselves, you should still position them on their back to go to sleep. If they reposition themselves during slumber, you do not need to move them onto their back provided the crib area is clear.

Beyond the ABCs, there are other things parents can do to create the safest sleep environment possible. They include:

Skip the blanket and pillows As soft and snuggly as they might be, blankets and pillows pose a suffocation risk. If the goal is to keep baby warm, consider using a swaddle or sleep sack over pajamas. These options will not come loose and inadvertently cover your baby’s face or obstruct breathing.

Pass on the plush Plush crib bumpers and stuffed animals pose the same suffocation hazard as blankets and pillows. In addition to often being dangerous and often expensive, crib bumpers are unnecessary on any crib that conforms to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (slat spacing less than 2-3/8”). As for stuffed friends, they should be saved for out-of-crib playtime.

Keep it firm and flat While the time spent in car seats, swings, strollers, and bouncy seats often morph in to naptimes, babies should not routinely sleep in them for extended periods of time. The bucket-seat construction of some of these products makes it easy for a baby’s head to fall forward and cut off their airway. Instead, always put your baby to sleep on a firm, flat surface. If they should fall asleep in a car seat or swing, gently lift them out and move them to a safer surface to continue their slumber. 

Say “yes” to soothers Binky, nukker, paci, or something else—no matter what you call it, pacifiers are a good choice for soothing a tired baby at bed or naptime. Not only do they provide comfort, they actually help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, if you are breastfeeding, wait until a solid feeding routine is established before introducing a pacifier. And don’t worry about replacing a pacifier if it falls out while your child is sleeping. They’re asleep. Best leave them that way.

Say “no” to couches and armchairs Sleeping on couches and armchairs places infants at an extraordinarily high risk of infant death, including SIDS, suffocation through entrapment, or wedging between seat cushions, or overlay, if another person is also sharing this surface.  Evidence suggests that it is safer to fall asleep with the infant in an adult bed, rather than on a sofa or armchair, should the you fall asleep.  if you fall asleep while feeding the infant in bed, the infant should be placed back on a separate sleep surface as soon as you awaken. 

For more information and to view videos related to safe sleep, visit HealthyChildren.org.

Dr. Jaclyn Lozier is a pediatrician at SVMC Pediatrics.

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