5 Steps to Make Sure Your Child Sleeps Safely

Baby sleeping peacefully

Research shows that nearly 55% of U.S. infants sleep with potentially unsafe bedding. Are you putting your child at risk? Soft objects and bedding -- thick blankets, quilts, pillows (including nursing pillows) and crib bumpers -- can obstruct your baby’s airway leading to suffocation, and also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Learn 5 steps to following to put your baby to bed safely.

Researchers from several institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, looked at 17 years of data from nearly 20,000 caregivers. Although the use of unsafe bedding has decreased substantially since a 1993-1995 study in which 85.9 percent of infants were found to be at risk, the statistics are still too high.

While most people are now correctly placing their infant in a crib or bassinet, 50 percent or more are still using potentially unsafe bedding. Interestingly, the use of quilts and blankets placed over infants declined, but not the use of bedding materials placed under infants, leading the study’s authors to question whether parents understand the NIH’s Safe to Sleep recommendations.

5 Steps to Follow

  • Place the baby alone in the crib on his or her back.
  • The sleep surface should be firm and covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Dress your baby in a one-piece sleeper (no blankets or hats) and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Don't use a bumper or place soft objects like stuffed animals.
  • Make sure there are no gaps larger than 2 fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.

SIDS Rates Down, But Suffocation Deaths Increasing

The rate of SIDS, the unexplained death of a child within the first year of life, has fallen 50 percent since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended that infants be put to sleep on their backs. Since 2000, however, there’s been an increase in other unexpected infant deaths from 7.0 per every 100,000 live births to 15.9 in 2010, resulting from accidental suffocation, entrapment in bedding, and other causes.

It’s easy to avoid having such a tragedy happen in your home. Follow the Safe to Sleep recommendations and be confident you’re doing all you can to make sure your baby has a good night’s sleep.

author name

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics.

Education: She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her special interests include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations. She is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Call: 717-569-6481

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