A lot has changed since you were an infant. In the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, parents tucked their babies in at night with hardly a worry or care. Today, scary and somewhat obscure acronyms, like SIDS, pop up everywhere a new parent looks, and it often seems as if sleeping itself has become unsafe.
Not so, the experts say. In fact, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) research in recent decades has made sleep safer than ever, and sleep-related death is becoming less and less obscure. Where it once occurred silently and “suddenly,” shrouded in mystery, experts now agree that most incidences of SIDS are the result of unsafe sleep habits.
In honor of SIDS Awareness Month (October), here are the rules-of-thumb for establishing safe sleep practices for your new baby:
Back is Best.
Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep for naptime and bedtime.
Select a Firm Mattress.
The incidence of SIDS increases with a soft and plush sleep surface.
Clear the Crib.
That’s right-no pillows, no blankets, no crib bumpers, and no stuffed animals. Just the mattress, a fitted sheet, and your sweet little bundle.
Keep it Cool.
Doctors Adams, Good, and DeFranco of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine insist that “parents should avoid overheating the infant during sleep” (2009). Research indicates that cooler, yet comfortable, temperatures are better for safe sleeping.
A safe sleep environment is smoke free—no ifs, ands, or buts!
If parents follow these best practices, there will be no need for worry associated with sleep and bedtime. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports that the rate of SIDS reduced by 50 percent in the first five years of its Safe to Sleep® campaign, and it has continued to steadily decrease since the campaign’s launch in 1994.
[References: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, HHS. (2013). What Does a Safe Sleep Environment Look Like?.
STEPHEN M. ADAMS, MD; MATTHEW W. GOOD, MD; and GINA M. DeFRANCO, DO, University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Am Fam Physician. 2009 May 15;79(10):870-874.]