Thousands of babies pass away in their sleep each year in the US. Most of them are from accidental suffocation or SIDS. Now the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a study on the biggest sleep habits risks for babies.
“Unfortunately this new report revealed that unsafe sleep practices with babies are common,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald to the Augusta Chronicle. “It appears that initial impact we saw then faded and so far we’ve sort of been stalled in our progress and it may be that we need to reinvigorate these messages,” she said.
The new data shows that 22% of parents do not put their baby on their back to sleep. A total of 39% use soft bedding like pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets for their baby. Finally, 61% have slept in the same bed with their infant. All of these are dangerous habits.
Resist the temptation to put a blanket on a baby when it is cold outside. Pediatricians said a onesie, warm-footed pajamas and a winter sleep sack should keep newborns comfortable.
The middle of the night with a cranky newborn is a vulnerable time for exhausted parents. Experts advise setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes when you begin overnight feedings to rouse you in case you fall asleep. Breastfeeding and using a pacifier can also reduce the risk for SIDS.
Also, always place babies to sleep on their backs – “every nap, every night, every time,” Fitzgerald said. It also means that the baby must have its own space to sleep, a safe crib or bassinet.
“Have the baby share your room, not your bed,” Fitzgerald said. “The baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair, with you or with anyone else.”
“I think it is important that all of us have a role to play in terms of identifying those contradictory messages to new parents and families so that they understand that a safe sleep environment does not include soft bedding, pillows, stuffed animals and other things within the crib,” she said.
Local hospitals are also starting to ramp up their educational efforts. At Doctors Hospital in Augusta, parents are given a gown for the child that has “This Side Up” on the front, to remind parents to place the baby on the back. They also receive a book on the pediatric academy’s Safe Sleep recommendations. And they get consultations of the “ABCs’ of Safe Sleep”. Nurses also give tips for mothers before discharge.
The doctors say parents are very receptive to learning. It’s just a matter of effort from the experts to send the right message to them.