Safe Sleep for Infants, Reducing Risk Factors
Everyone wants to keep their babies safe. It’s hard to know the best practices for safe sleep for infants. There are some things we can do that can help cut down on accidental and unexplained infant deaths. SIDS is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is when a baby dies with no explanation at all. Many infants die from SIDS, it’s much more common than you think. It’s not detectable or preventable, but there are risk factors that can be removed to keep babies safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends best safe sleep practices.
SIDS can occur in children from birth to as old as 12 months. Suffocation and asphyxiation deaths occur at a high rate at that age span as well. Children under one year of age have no reflexes indicating to them they are in danger of suffocation, so they don’t yet know to fight to help themselves. It’s up to adults to protect them from it. Remember, SIDS is not preventable or detectable.
SIDS rates have been reduced drastically over the past 20 years by practicing safe sleep practices at home, in child care centers and homes, and with other caregivers. Parents AND providers must work together to ensure safety for all infants.
SIDS is a tragedy that is very very close to my heart. My life has been affected by it deeply more than once. I wish there was a way to prevent SIDS but we can cut down on risk factors. We will discuss best practices to cut down on risk for SIDS and other infant deaths all together.
NO SMOKING AROUND BABIES
The number one way to cut down on infant deaths is by not allowing smoking anywhere near your baby ever. Smoke is full of so many different chemicals and some of those chemicals alter a baby’s brain function in a way that prevents them from being able to arouse from sleep. The effect is even higher on Native American babies and even higher yet for African American babies. All babies deserve healthy air and a smoke free environment.
BACK TO SLEEP
Placing babies on their back to sleep helps make sure the airway stays the most open during sleep. This helps for adequate oxygen to move through the baby’s airway and into the blood stream through the lungs. Babies should not be allowed to sleep on their tummy or side where they can easily roll on their tummy.
Why does sleeping on their tummy pose risks? When baby’s face is close to the mattress, carbon dioxide, which is exhaled as baby breaths, can pool around their face. The baby then breaths in less and less oxygen as the sleep time continues and over time, may become depleted of adequate oxygen causing it to be difficult for baby to wake up.
FURNITURE MADE FOR BABY TO HAVE SAFE SLEEP
Infants should not be allowed to sleep in car seats, bouncy seats, swings or other baby furniture that is not made for sleeping. These products do not allow for baby to sleep flat on their back which is the best way for them to get enough oxygen while sleeping.
Car seat sleeping deaths are the highest cause of suffocation or asphyxiation deaths in infants. When a baby is properly seated in a car seat which is properly installed in a car, they are in an upright position with the harness properly positioned across their nipples. This is safe for sleeping. When the car seat is taken from the car, the seat drops back further and changes the position of the airway of the child. The seat is not flat, it’s rounded, so this causes the throat to be in an unsafe position for maximum airflow.
Another problem with car seats is people usually loosen the straps when they take them out of the car. This is the biggest risk factor because many times children suffocate when they slide down into the seat. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t let your babies sleep in the car seat when it’s not properly installed in the car. Please don’t.
KEEP THE CRIB EMPTY FOR SLEEPING
Infants should never be put to sleep with stuffed animals, pacifiers with straps or toys attached, fluffy bumper pads, or even blankets. Yes, blankets can contribute to infant deaths. Children should never use a blanket or a pillow in bed until after age one. The reasons are the same, they can cause exhaled carbon monoxide to pool around babies face and reduce oxygen intake. Cribs should be clean and clear with nothing but a firm mattress and a tight fitting sheet. Pacifiers are fine as long as they don’t have anything attached to them.
DON’T KEEP BABY TOO WARM
Infants should be dressed in the same type of clothing that would be comfortable for adults for the weather conditions. If you are comfortable in shorts and a tank top, don’t have baby bundled up in footed pajamas. If you’re hot, they’re hot. Your house should be kept at a comfortable temperature for an adult in light clothing. Keeping baby too warm causes them to sleep too deeply which is a big contributing factor for SIDS and other incidences.
Remember to use your common sense when choosing the best sleeping place for your child. Co-sleeping or letting babies in bed with adults or other children is not safe for infants under 1 year of age. Adult beds are not made for infants. Do not sleep babies on couches, floors, tables or other surfaces not designed for infant sleep.
For more information on safe sleep, click here.
Talk to your childcare provider, family and friends about infant death and ways to cut down on risk factors for your baby. Everyone should know. Share this post with everyone you can think of who has an infant so more people can be aware. Remember, SIDS is not detectable or preventable, but we can use what the AAP recommends as best practices.
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