Babies and Sleep: Safety is Priority
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Published on December 12, 2016

Sleeping Baby

Babies and Sleep: Safety is Priority

A good night’s sleep is an elusive dream for parents of newborn babies, but that goes with the territory. But all parents – and the doctors who provide both them and their little ones care – know the sacrifice is worth it, as long as babies have a safe night’s sleep.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended a few new considerations for new mom and dads. Kara Bruning, MD, Avera Medical Group pediatrician said the biggest things that can help keep babies safe remain the same.

“They should be put in their sleeping space on their back with nothing in the crib or sleeping space whatsoever,” said Bruning. “I also dissuade parents from co-sleeping. It’s dangerous. You should never have a baby sleeping in your bed.”

The changes in the guidelines from theAAP are meant to address sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, which presents the greatest risk to children in their first six months of life. Almost 3,500 lives are lost each year due to SIDS. Bruning said the newest recommendation from the AAP encourages you, as a new mom or dad, to keep baby’s crib/sleeping environment in the parents’ room. Bruning said she understands why this idea is presented.

“I feel the primary focus should be on the sleeping space, which should be free of pillows, blankets and stuffed toys, as well as any pads or crib bumpers. Co-sleeping or bed sharing with an infant, as I mentioned, is really dangerous, and this guideline makes sense,” she said. “If the crib is nearby, it may lessen the frequency of parents making that mistake and letting baby sleep in their bed. Just get up and put baby on his or her back in the crib in your room.”

Baby mattresses should not compress at all, Bruning added. Even one that allows for a centimeter of give could be enough to present a serious airway blockage for a sleeping infant. A firm, toys-and-blanket-free space is the safest sleep space for your baby. You can even begin before baby comes as you shop with care.

“Many of the new cribs and other sleeping spaces are applying the guidelines properly, but sometimes you’ll see an older ‘Pack ‘n Play’ or similar device on a rummage sale or classified ad,” Bruning said. “Before you buy it, make sure there is no squishy mattress in it. Saving a few dollars with an unsafe playpen is a bad choice.”

Bruning also reminds new moms and dads to avoid letting children sleep on couches or other soft surfaces, to avoid letting them sleep in their car seats (once home) or in “rocking” style child seats, too. Avoid squishy mattresses and clutter in the sleep space, put them on their backs and never share a bed with infants: all of these will make your baby safer.

“As doctors, moms and dads, if we can apply these guidelines every time we have the chance, we can reduce infant deaths,” Bruning said. “The lack of sleep and the joy and anxiety that come with being a new parent can be a challenge – but applying the rules every time can reduce that worry and achieve the most important bottom line: safer babies.”

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