New parents often are worried about their baby’s safety and the risk of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But they can reduce the risk of SIDS by what they choose for their baby’s sleep environment, said Rachelle Rigby, RN, pediatric medical and surgical services director at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.
Jade Elliott spoke with Rachelle Rigby, RN, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, about ensuring your baby is sleeping safely.
“New parents may be tempted to decorate their baby’s crib with stuffed animals, soft pillows and fluffy blankets and bumpers,” Rigby said. “But fluffy things in the crib can actually create a danger for infants.”
The cause of SIDS is unknown, but research indicates that there are contributing factors. Soft surfaces, such as a couch, fluffy blanket or pillow, can block an infant’s airway. Overheating also can increase a baby’s risk of SIDS.
“Parents should always place a baby on his or her back to sleep to help reduce the risk of SIDS,” Rigby said. “Tummy time should be reserved for play when a parent or caretaker can engage with baby.”
Here are some ways to reduce risks for sleeping infants:
- Place babies on their backs to sleep. SIDS deaths decreased significantly following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “back to sleep” campaign, in which parents were urged to place their babies on their backs, not tummies, to go to sleep.
- Never bed-share. Room-sharing is recommended, but bed-sharing is not, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Room-sharing without bed-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. Parents should place their baby’s crib in the room where they sleep until the child is at least 6 months old.
- Use a firm mattress, covered with a fitted sheet, that fits snugly inside the crib.
- Remove loose bedding and soft objects from the crib.
- Do not overdress baby for bedtime to prevent overheating. Consider putting a fan in baby’s room in warm weather. Remember, babies are comfortable at the same temperatures as their siblings and parents.
- Do not use car seats, swings or strollers as beds for infants under the age of four months for routine sleep.
- Never smoke, drink, or use illicit drugs around an infant.
“Exhausted parents might be tempted to put baby in the bed with them to help the baby fall asleep. But it’s best to let baby fall asleep on their own in a separate space to keep them safe,” Rigby said. “If baby looks tired, get them swaddled and into their crib bassinet so they can learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own, so you can do the same.”
More information: Primarychildrens.org
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.