Baby Sleep & Crib Safetyby Katlyn Joy | August 4, 2010 12:00 AM
Experienced parents and grandparents are a wealth of information, but when it comes to issues of sleep safety it's important to know the latest research and advice of professionals. For instance, since the "Back to Sleep" campaign began in 1992, SIDS deaths in the US were cut in half.
Parents should make sure their baby sleeps in a safe crib, approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The mattress should fit the crib snugly and should be free of potential hazards such as loose or soft bedding like blankets, loose sheets, quilts, bumper pads, or plush toys.
Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, no matter where they are sleeping or if it is night time or just nap time. Grandparents, babysitters and all other caregivers should be directed to always do the same. To avoid flat spots on the head, let baby have tummy time during play and awake or alert times.
Also, babies should not sleep on couches, waterbeds, or with siblings. When traveling take extra care to assure baby is in a safe sleeping position and crib.
These sleep rules also apply if baby is in a travel crib or carseat.
Unless directed otherwise by a physician, such as in the case of a premature infant, do not keep a hat on baby indoors. Overdressing is a factor in SIDS cases, so make sure baby is not kept too warm.
Never allow a baby to be exposed to cigarette smoke, including allowing people to smoke in rooms where baby spends time. Nicotine appears to interfere with a brain protein vital to baby's breathing.
SIDS related products
No product is proven to reduce the incidence of SIDS, and have not been proven safe either. Do not use any such products.
Recent research points to pacifier use being associated with lower SIDS rates. Using a clean dry pacifier, if amenable to the baby, is a good sleep time practice. If baby is breastfeed, wait until nursing is well established, at about one month, before introducing the pacifier to avoid nipple confusion.
- SIDS is the leading cause of death in children in the first year of life.
- SIDS is most likely to happen between 2 and 4 months of age
- Race is a factor in SIDS death, with African American infants being twice as likely to die from it than white infants, and Native American babies are 3 times as likely to die from SIDS than white babies.
Special Concerns with Co-Sleeping
Many parents and professionals endorse the practice of co-sleeping with infants and believe it reduces, not increases, the likelihood of SIDS. While co-sleeping is controversial, there are some tips for making the practice a safer one.
- Put baby to sleep on his back
- Place baby next to mother, not between parents
- Ensure that baby cannot roll out of bed, by using a mattress guardrail or a co-sleeper attachment
- Never allow baby to sleep in same bed if parents are impaired in any way from prescription medicine or alcohol or overly tired
- Don not share sleep on an overly soft surface
- Avoid overheating
- Make certain there are no strings on nightgowns that could entangle baby
Some people are quite comfortable with co-sleeping, but prefer to keep baby's crib in the parent's room for at least the first several months. If that is your preference, don not worry about anyone's advice against spoiling. Parents need to do whatever it takes to make baby safe, so everyone can sleep better.Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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