The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced updated safe sleeping recommendations for babies up to 1 year old. According to the AAP, the updated guidelines were released to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is the main cause of the more than 3,500 infant deaths in the U.S. each year.
The following points are highlights from the 19 updated recommendations:
▪ Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care. There is substantial evidence linking a lower risk of SIDS for infants whose mothers obtain regular prenatal care.
▪ The AAP recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for a minimum of six months, up to a year. Babies should be placed in a separate sleeping area such as a crib or bassinet, however, and should never sleep in the same bed as parents.
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▪ Couches, armchairs and other soft surfaces are not safe sleeping spaces. Infants should be placed on a firm sleep surface (mattress in a safety-approved crib) covered by a fitted sheet, with no other bedding or soft objects, to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
▪ Crib bumpers should be removed from cribs to prevent suffocation. Loose bedding and stuffed animals should also be removed. Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from the infant’s sleep area.
▪ Swaddling, often used as a strategy to calm infants, is OK, though there is no evidence to recommend swaddling as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS. When swaddling, or wrapping the infant in a light blanket, babies should always be placed on the back to prevent them from rolling over onto their stomachs, risking suffocation.
▪ If your baby falls asleep in a car seat stroller, sling, swing or similar device, he or she should be moved to a firm sleep surface and placed on his or her back.
▪ Avoid overheating and head covering in infants. In general, infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no greater than one layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment. Parents and caregivers should evaluate the infant for signs of overheating, such as sweating or the infant’s chest feeling hot to the touch.
▪ Do not buy into “SIDS prevention” products such as sleep positioners. These products are not tested for safety or effectiveness and can still pose a suffocation risk. There is no evidence that any of these devices reduce the risk of SIDS, and the use of products claiming to increase sleep safety does not diminish the importance of following recommended safe sleep practices. Information about a specific product can be found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at cpsc.gov.
Be sure to talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions about safe sleeping spaces for your child. For a full list of AAP updated recommendations for reducing SIDS, visit pediatrics.aappublications.org.
Julia Burton is a CRNP at Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics.