Fourteen recommendations to ensure your baby sleeps safely and soundly
Creating a safe sleep environment can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Whether you are a first time parent or a mom or dad with several children having a newborn can seem overwhelming at times. There are many things to learn from bathing to feeding to sleeping.
At the Telfair BirthPlace at St. Joseph’s/Candler, our nurses aim to give education and information that make caring for the newborn as easy as possible. One area families are educated on in our childbirth education classes and before they leave the hospital is safe sleeping recommendations for their baby.
“One thing we discuss is safe sleep, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and how positioning the newborn in the crib correctly is extremely important,” says LaCameo Miller, MSN-ED, RN, nurse at the Telfair BirthPlace. “The education we give is important because it will help save a life.”
Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is the term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area. SUID includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment and other deaths of unknown causes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 3,500 babies in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly each year. SIDS is the leading cause of SUID for infants under 1 year old, especially from birth to 4 months.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of SIDS is to put healthy infants on their backs when putting them to sleep.
“Following the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the nurses at Telfair BirthPlace encourage parents to put the infant on their back on a firm sleep surface when laying them down for a nap or at bedtime,” Miller says. “We also educate them on keeping soft or loose objects out of the crib. This means that there should be no bumper pads, pillows or blankets in the crib due to the increased risk of suffocation.”
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1992 that all babies be placed on their backs to sleep, deaths from SIDS have declined dramatically. However, sleep-related deaths from other causes, such as suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have gone up.
To help keep you baby safe while asleep, parents are encouraged to:
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for regular sleep.
- Do not feed your baby on a sofa or cushioned chair in case you fall asleep. Always try to take your baby back to his crib or bassinet after feeding.
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows and blankets. Bumper pads should not be used in cribs.
- Wedges or positioners that are made to keep a baby in one position are not recommended.
- Do not smoke and do not allow others to smoke around your infant.
- Do not drink alcohol or use drugs.
- Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
- Do not use commercial devices or cardiorespiratory monitors that are not ordered by your baby’s doctor.
- Keep your baby’s head and face uncovered during sleep. You can use a wearable blanket or another type of sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm.
- Do not let your baby become overheated during sleep. Keep the temperature so it feels comfortable for an adult. Dress your baby in as much or little clothing as you would wear.
- Schedule and go to all baby check-up appointments.
- Babies should be immunized. This can reduce the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to help with the baby’s head, shoulder and muscle development. It can also lower the chances of your baby’s head from becoming flat.
“A safe sleep environment is the ultimate objective and creating such an environment will decrease the number of deaths in regards to SUID and SIDS in all infants,” Miller says.