Every year in the United States, 3,500 infants between the ages of one month and one year die tragically – while sleeping – from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). These deaths are occurring in Black babies at twice the rate of white babies, and Alabama has one of the highest infant death rates in the country.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its recommendations on how parents can reduce the risk of sleep-related infant death. The new guidelines warn against co-sleeping, crib decorations, and inclined sleep products.
UAB Women and Infants Services is committed to helping parents and caregivers keep babies safe. The latest recommendations are summarized below:
- Put babies on their backs to sleep – for nap time, nighttime, and every time. Babies will not choke sleeping on their backs. Sleeping on their side or tummy is dangerous.
- Tell everyone who cares for your baby about “back to sleep,” and don’t forget your daycare center. Don’t assume that someone already knows.
- Babies should sleep alone in a crib, bassinet, or play yard, separate from anyone else. Sharing a bed with an adult or another child can cause infant death by suffocation or strangulation.
- The AAP recommends room-sharing but not bed-sharing for the first 6 months. Babies should always go back in their own sleep area after nighttime feedings.
- Your baby’s sleeping area should include a firm, well-fitting mattress and a well-fitting sheet.
- Dress the baby in a one-piece blanket sleeper instead of a blanket. This keeps the baby’s face uncovered for easy breathing.
- Loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and other soft things are not safe in the baby’s bed.
- If your infant falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move him or her to a flat, firm surface as soon as possible.
- Do not let anyone smoke around your baby.
- Don’t let your baby get overheated from too many layers of clothing or by keeping the room too hot. Roughly 68-70 degrees is the right room temperature for sleeping.
- After breastfeeding is established, usually around 3 weeks, give your baby a pacifier to reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding also helps reduce this risk.
- Watch out for products that claim to help reduce the risk of SIDS or that offer other places or ways for babies to sleep. Many such products have contributed to infant deaths and have been recalled.
- To reduce the chance of flat spots on your baby’s head, allow “tummy time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching.
UAB Women and Infants Services wants to keep your baby safe, so please tell friends and caregivers about safer infant sleep. Together, we can make Alabama a much safer place for babies.
Freda Centor, MSN, RN
UAB Women and Infants Services