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Published on February 21, 2018

infant sleeping

It’s Always a Good Time to Reflect on Safe Sleep for Infants

Babies yet to reach their first birthdays need attention and love, especially when it comes to where they sleep and how to keep them as safe as possible.

The guidelines are pretty clear, yet concern for these little ones makes it worth reviewing them, refreshing our memories and practicing the proper methods every time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated guidelines in 2016. Research showed key fundamentals that can help reduce rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The guidelines are commonly known as the “Back to Sleep” program.

“The ‘Back’ in the program’s title actually refers to the proper sleeping position – putting the child on his or her back when it’s bedtime,” said pediatric nurse practitioner Kim Peterson, DNP, Avera Medical Group Marshall.

These guidelines also tell any adults caring for sleeping infants to use firm mattresses in children’s cribs and to keep the sleep areas clear. “No bumpers, toys or blankets,” Peterson said. “This removes potential choking or entrapment hazards.”

Courtney Blomme, PNP, pediatric provider at Avera Medical Group Marshall, underlined what Peterson said, and added the updated guidelines also advise parents about infant crib location in the home.

“Parents should have the crib or bassinet in their bedroom for babies younger than 12 months,” Blomme said. “The evidence shows that this step, combined with a blanket- and toy-free sleeping space, can help reduce SIDS risk by 50 percent.”

Blomme also reminds parents to consider sleepwear for babies. They should wear sleepers or swaddling sacks – these are the safest clothing for them for naps or at bedtime. Peterson and Blomme point to the fact that breast feeding also reduces overall risk, whether baby receives only breast milk or in combination with formula.

As infants age, they will begin to move in their sleep more, and this is ordinary.

“Between the age of four and six months, babies will begin to roll onto their bellies, and this is normal development,” Peterson said. “Tummy time is extremely important.”

That’s because when babies get tummy time, it can prevent excessive pressure on their heads, which will help avoid flat-head syndrome, known clinically as plagiocephaly.

“Attending well-child checks during the first year of life is a crucial element of your baby’s health,” Blomme said. “They are a great time to talk to your pediatric provider and ask any questions you might have.”

Pacifier use is also a common question among parents. Both Blomme and Peterson said it’s fine to offer them at naps and at bedtime, but to make sure they’re not connected with any sort of cord because of the obvious choking hazard.

Parents also are reminded that by not smoking or quitting, you can help your young child be as healthy as possible. Another important step is to adhere to the vaccine schedule recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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