What’s All The Fuss About Safe Sleep For Babies?
BY RACHEL CHASE
Sleeping is just plain hard for babies and their adult caregivers. Many infants are fussy sleepers, and, unfortunately, some of the things we do to make sleep easier might not be safe for babies. Things we do for comfort, like tummy sleeping, breast sleeping, sleeping with blankets or other objects, on adult beds, or sleeping with adults and siblings can be dangerous. These practices put the infant at risk for accidental suffocation death.
Every year in the United States, about 3,500 sudden infant deaths (SIDS) occur from accidental suffocation and strangulation. And, many of these happen when the baby is being watched by someone other than the primary parents or caregivers. Fortunately, safe sleep can happen, and these deaths are preventable by following safe sleep practices!
Grandparents and other older adult caregivers should follow the updated American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines (HealthyChildren.org/SafeSleep) to keep infants safe:
The A, B, C’s of Safe Sleep:
A: Babies sleep ALONE and should not share a bed with other children, adults, blankets, pillows, toys, soft objects or loose bedding
B: Always on their BACKS, even for naps
C: In their own CRIBS with a firm surface. Never on a couch, sofa, or armchair. In addition, cribs should not have added bumpers, should be inspected regularly, be well-maintained, and be an approved product by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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Common Questions and Answers:
Question: “I placed my babies on their stomachs to sleep and they were fine. Was this wrong?”
Answer: Most babies who sleep on their stomachs will survive. But for those that don’t, the risk was too great. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of SIDS has declined by more than 50% since the Back-to-Sleep Campaign was introduced in 1994. This decline is a huge success that supports the recommendation to always put infants on their backs to sleep.
Question: “Will my grandbaby choke if I place her on her back to sleep?”
Answer: No. Babies have a gag reflex that lets them swallow any spit-up. Gravity is also on your side for back-sleeping; the esophagus (food tube) is toward the back of the neck.
- Do not smoke around the baby
- Help the baby have fun tummy time while awake
- Commit to infant safe sleep practices by sharing your safe sleep knowledge, not by sharing a nap!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – RACHEL CHASE
Rachel Chase is a Master in Public Health working for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County. She leads the agency’s safe sleep and health literacy initiatives.