By Karma M. Cinnante, DO, FAAP / Pediatrics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3,500 babies in the U.S. are lost each year due to sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, and deaths from unknown causes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following safe sleep practices for newborns and infants:
• Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep in a bassinet, crib, portable crib, or play yard, including naps and at night.
• Use a firm and flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a tight, fitted sheet.
• Keep soft objects such as pillows and toys, as well as blankets and crib bumpers, out of the baby’s sleep area.
The AAP recommends against sitting devices, such as car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings, for routine sleep in the hospital or at home, particularly for young infants. Infants must be supervised in these devices at all times and never left unattended. If an infant falls asleep in a sitting device, he or she should be removed from the product and moved to a crib or other appropriate flat sleeping surface as soon as is safe and practical.
Additionally, parents and caregivers should follow these tips for safe sleep:
• Never allow your baby to sleep in your bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
• Do not allow your baby to fall asleep on his or her stomach.
• Dress your baby in appropriate-weight sleepwear, such as a wearable blanket or sleep sack.
To help soothe your baby to sleep:
• Play calming sounds such as white noise or the recording of a human heartbeat in your baby’s room. Be sure to keep the devices and wires away from cribs.
• Rock your baby in your arms and give him or her a clean, dry pacifier. According to the AAP, studies have shown that pacifiers decrease the risk of SIDS. Choose pacifiers that do not have toys or strings attached.
For older infants, it is important to keep the baby calm and quiet before bedtime. Place baby to sleep on his or her back when drowsy but awake, so that the baby learns to self-soothe and fall asleep on his or her own. Establish a consistent, calming bedtime routine such as bathing, quietly reading or singing to your baby. Bedtime routines should be tailored to what works to calm the baby and not stimulate.
Contact your baby’s healthcare provider if you have questions about safe sleeping techniques or would like tips on how to soothe your baby to sleep.