Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hush Little Baby - Sleep Safely

When we first bring our babies home, in those early days post birth, we worry about every.little.thing. Is it too hot? Too cold? Are they eating enough? Too much food? Are they having enough bowel movements, or not enough? I think I charted for weeks feedings, BM and diaper changes. What parent among has us not checked on their child sporadically through the night to watch the rise and fall of their chest? A friend assures me that I am not alone in neurotic checking of my sleeping preschooler's breathing; they still check at night on their twenty-something year old child when they return from college.

While it doesn't feel like it to new parents, newborn babies spend most of their time sleeping, albeit sporadically. Providing a safe environment for a baby to sleep in is of the utmost importance. A horrifying two-thirds of injury related deaths of infants are from suffocation, many during sleep. So how to prevent this?

Safe Sleep-
Note: Suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are not the same thing, but many of the following recommendations are made with both issues in mind.  These recommendations are not meant to replace your pediatrician's advice or be all inclusive. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages room-sharing where the infant is in close proximity to their parents, rather than bed-sharing which presents more variables in safety consideration.

1. Always put your child down to sleep on their back on a firm mattress. Babies placed on their back are less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  1, 2

2. Keep your infant, especially those under 6 months in the same room with you within arm's reach. Research studies indicate that parental proximity is a positive thing, encouraging breastfeeding and sensory awareness of the baby's breathing and needs.  1, 3

3. The bedding should be tightly fitted to the mattress. Use fitted sheets rather than loose sheets so that the baby doesn't become entangled or strangled by the sheets. No bumper pads on the crib, no pillows or blankets or stuffed toys in the bed. Nothing other than the baby in their bed.  1

4. Keep the room temperature comfortable and take care to make sure the baby doesn't overheat. Consider using sleepers, sleep sacks or wearable blankets to maintain an appropriate temperature.

5. Make sure that any sleep environment meets current
Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. These are independent federal regulatory agency standards for baby sleep environments, most adult beds would not meet these standards:
  • No more than 2-3/8 inches between the crib slats so a baby’s head or body cannot fit through the slats; no missing or cracked slats.
  • A firm, tight fitting mattress so baby cannot get trapped between mattress and crib. Mattress should fit snugly - less than the width of two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the side of the crib.
  • No missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws, brackets, or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so a baby’s clothing cannot catch.
  • No cutouts in the headboard or foot board so a baby’s head cannot get trapped.
6. Keep your sleeping baby away from adults who are smoking (exposure to smoke has shown to be a SIDS risk), using drugs, alcohol or medications that can cause sleepiness or are overtired.

7. Do not have your baby sleep in a bed with other children even if you are present. Young children are not aware of the dangers of suffocation.

8. Never leave your baby alone in an adult bed or sleep on a waterbed, pillow or sofa.

September is Baby Safety Month. If you would like more information about baby safety topics please visit Safe Kids Tucson works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Tucson is a coalition with a broad base of community partners and is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Tucson is led by Tucson Medical Center, TMC for Children.

1. American Academy of Pediatrics: Task Force on Infant Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death. Changing Concepts of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Implications for Infant Sleeping Environment and Sleep Position. Pediatrics. 2000; 105:650-656.
2.Hauck FR, Herman SM, Donovan M, et al. Sleep Environment and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in an Urban Population:  The Chicago Infant Mortality Study. Pediatrics. 2003; 111:1207- 1214.
3. Tappin D, Ecob R, Stat S, Brooke MA. Bedsharing, roomsharing, and sudden infant death syndrome in Scotland: A case-control study. J Pediatr. 2005; Jul; 147 (1): H3, PMID 16027679


  1. Thank you for this intricate tips for Baby Safe sleep Month. This will help new parents with babies.