Knowing that our babies are sleeping in a safe environment is a big concern for all parents. As much as we want to, we can’t watch them 24/7. So what can we do to make sure that we are providing as safe a sleep environment as possible? The first step is to improve our safe sleep education.
What’s the difference between SIDS and SUID?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is when babies die while they are sleeping. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) can include SIDS, but also accidental death or strangulation, and ill defined/unknown causes.
Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of SUID?
Research shows that breastfeeding, room sharing but not bed sharing, and pacifier use (once breastfeeding is well established) can greatly reduce the risk of SUID. The protection of breastfeeding increases if babies are exclusively breastfed, but any amount offers some protection.
How do I create a safe sleep environment for my baby?
1.) Always put your baby to sleep on their back! Babies should never sleep on their side or abdomen.
2.) Put your baby in a crib, bassinet, or portable crib that has been approved for sleeping. This should be done every time the baby sleeps. These should have a firm mattress, with a fitted sheet. Nothing else should be in the sleep area!
3.) Use sleep sacks approved for swaddling and sleep. You may use a light blanket for swaddling if they are not too loose, too tight, and not higher than shoulder height. Stop swaddling once your baby starts attempting to roll over.
4.) Avoid overheating your baby. Babies only need up to one light layer more than you would wear to sleep in the same environment.
5.) Don’t sleep in the same bed, chair, or couch, as your baby.
6.) Avoid smoking! Even if you or your partner smoke away from your baby, the smoke on your clothes can still negatively affect your baby and increase the chance of SUID.
What’s the difference between room sharing and bed sharing?
Room sharing is not the same as bed sharing; to clarify:
Room Sharing: Your baby sleeps on a safe surface that is near you, but not on the same surface with you. The surface that your baby sleeps on should be his own crib or bassinet in your room. Room sharing can allow you to quickly hear your baby when they need a diaper change or need to be fed.
Bed Sharing: Your baby sleeps in the bed, couch, or chair with you – and you are close enough to touch. This has been linked to SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) up to 1 year old. Bed sharing is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If you chose to participate in Bed Sharing (although not recommended) there are some ways to improve safety:
1.) Make sure the covers do not go over the baby, and remove all pillows.
2.) Make sure the mattress is firm; the mattress should not be a pillow top or too old. Always use a fitted sheet.
3.) Do not have anyone else sleep in the bed but the baby’s parents.
4.) Never smoke, drink alcohol, use marijuana or any drugs (illicit or prescribed) before bed sharing.
If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s sleep environment, reach out and we will gladly give you some advice. You can also print out this Safe Sleep Environment PDF to pin to your notice board, or visit healthychildren.org/safesleep
The WillowAZ Nurse Midwives
Belinda, Diane, Pam, Roxanne, Lana, and Emily