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Safe Sleep for Newborns

by Margaret Breen • May 14th, 2016

Every parent’s number one goal is to keep their baby safe! So, of course, many of you devoted parents of newborns were quite upset this week due to an overwhelming number of scary headlines that followed the publication of a new study “Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis”. Pediatrics (May 2016).
“Swaddling babies may increase risk of SIDS,” the headlines blared. Some readers latched on and panicked. But the analysis emphasizes a more nuanced conclusion that supports what many parents and pediatricians already know about safe sleep for newborns.

To quote the study’s conclusion: “Despite the limitations, these analyses indicate that the current advice to avoid placing infants on their front or side to sleep may especially apply to infants who are swaddled. Given the marked increase in infants swaddled and found prone (rather than placed prone), coupled with an increased risk of swaddling with increased age regardless of sleeping position, health professionals and current guidelines should consider an appropriate age limit at which swaddling should be discouraged.”
Put another way, stick to current advice not to place infants to sleep on their stomachs or sides, and stop swaddling as your baby grows, probably around the time he or she shows signs of rolling or begins to break out of this fabric cocoon.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for Safe Infant Sleep:
    Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should be immunized. Evidence suggests that immunization reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
  • Bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).

Learn more on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ original article, “AAP Expands Guidelines for Infant Sleep Safety and SIDS Risk Reduction.
Remember if you still have concerns or want further guidance call your baby’s health care provider, take a Newborn Care Class, and take an infant and child CPR class. 

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