The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated the guidelines for safe sleep for infants. More than 3,500 infants die every year in the United States from sleep-related deaths which include SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
In Madison County, there have been 14 deaths that were the cause of either safe sleep issues or SIDS since 2001.
AAP recommendations for a safe sleep environment for an infant include:
• Placing the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
• Do not use soft bedding, including crib bumper pads, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
• Sharing a bedroom with parents, but not the same bed, preferably until the baby turns one but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
• Avoiding baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
• Offering a pacifier to the infant at nap time and bedtime.
• Giving the infant supervised awake “tummy time” which helps with baby’s development. Tummy time helps develop the neck, chest and arm muscles and this can ensure that a baby can lift their head and turn it to the side if they roll over on their own while sleeping.
Another recommendation by the Academy is for there to be skin to skin contact for at least an hour after the delivery of the newborn as soon as the new mom is medically stable and awake no matter what type of feeding or delivery method is used. Breastfeeding is also encouraged as a protection against SIDS but the Academy recommends that after feeding the baby, the parent should move the infant to his or her own sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parent’s bedroom.
If a parent is feeding or comforting a child during the night and there is any chance the parent may fall asleep, the child should be with the parent in their bed instead of a couch or cushioned chair as these provide a greater risk of suffocation to the infant. However, the parent should place the child back in their crib as soon as they wake up.
The Madison County-London City Health District has information available for safe sleep practices and for tummy time activities you can do with your baby. Stop by the health department at 306 Lafayette St. in London if you are interested or call us at 740-852-3065 and we will gladly send it to you.
Susie Hyden is registrar of vital statistics at the Madison County-London City Health District. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 740-852-3065, ext. 1527.