How to promote a safe sleep environment for your baby

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – According to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study, swaddled babies placed on their sides or stomachs are twice as likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies aged one month to one year, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Swaddling is a technique used to promote calmness and sleep by wrapping babies tightly in a blanket with just their head exposed.

“The deaths that we see are from babies in unsafe sleeping environments, and swaddling can be done in an unsafe manner and we need to avoid that,” said Elena Rossi, Associate Chair of Pediatrics at Akron Children’s Hospital.

She says a safe sleep environment follows the ABCs: the baby should be alone, on their back and in an empty crib.

The AAP discourages parents from putting their babies to sleep in the same bed as them.

The study says parents should avoid placing babies on their sides or stomachs when sleeping.

“If you look at the study more closely, it says that these parents are swaddling their infants and then placing them on their side or tummy, and that increases the risk of SIDS,” Rossi said.

The baby’s sleeping area should be free of things including loose blankets, pillows, bumper pads and stuffed animals because those items can increase the risk of suffocation. Rossi also reminds parents that if the baby is swaddled, to make sure they can’t wiggle out of the blanket.

Babies who are more than six months old have an even higher risk for SIDS after being swaddled. Researchers and medical professionals say parents should stop swaddling their babies before then because at that age, they are more likely to roll onto their stomachs by themselves.

“The message is if you swaddle, you should only swaddle the shoulders. The hips should be free to move,” Rossi said. “If you swaddle, you can only do it in the first two months of age when the baby isn’t very active.”

The AAP also recommends the following to prevent SIDS:

  • Always use a firm sleep surface
  • Do not let your baby get too hot
  • Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke
  • Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can
  • Offer a pacifier at sleep times
  • Schedule and go to all well-child visits
  • Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS such as wedges, positioners or special mattresses
  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors to help reduce the risk of SIDS

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