TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Soft blankets and cute stuffed animals are all adorable, but they’re also potentially deadly to babies when they sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its first update to its Safe Sleep guidelines since 2016. The recommendations officially confirm many things educators were already teaching parents and reinforce the need for babies to sleep flat on their backs. and alone.
Danielle Twemlow, a safe sleep educator at Stormont Vail Birthplace, says the new recommendations reaffirm the ABCs of safe sleep for babies.
“We always want babies to be alone, on their backs, in a clutter-free crib,” she said.
When it comes to the nativity scene, drop the decorations. No blankets or stuffed animals inside, no comforters or draped side bumpers, and babies who are well enough to come home don’t need to wear a hat to bed .
“These are all additional objects where they can put their face next to each other and choke, or potentially get trapped,” Twemlow said. “We don’t want to put blankets on because the blankets can move around and cover the face. Babies do not have the ability to remove them.
The new guidelines also reinforce that babies sleep on their backs on flat, non-inclined surfaces.
“We know that, anatomically, we kind of give the best way if we have sputum, so it doesn’t go to the lungs,” Twemlow said. “We know that being flat on their back on a firm surface allows babies to take some nice deep breaths. Being on their stomach or on their side – this allows babies to roll over or move into positions that may put their face against a surface and cannot breathe and do a good exchange of oxygen.
Even before the updated guidelines, in May President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, taking padded bumpers and angled sleepers off the market by the end of the year.
Twemlow says the bumpers date back to a time when cribs were made differently.
“A can of soda shouldn’t be able to fit through these slats. We’ve created safer sleep environments and we don’t need those bumpers anymore,” she said.
The new guidelines also stress that co-sleeping under all circumstances is not safe.
According to the State Child Death Review Board, among sleep-related infant deaths in Kansas in 2021, 55% were in an adult bed and 61% shared a sleep surface.
Twemlow said there are several reasons why putting a baby in an adult bed can be dangerous.
“Waking up can be very difficult when we’re sleep deprived,” she said. “(Furthermore), any time we have this extra bedding – pillows, blankets, even loose clothing that we have over our own bodies – are not safe environments for babies.”
Twemlow said babies are recommended to sleep in the same room as a carer for the first six months, but they should be in a separate bassinet or bassinet.
The guidelines also point out that exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke may increase the risk of SIDS, while pacifier use at naptime and at bedtime, and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of SIDS.
If you’re buying cribs, portable playpens, or any other used children’s item, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website – cpsc.gov – to make sure it hasn’t been recalled.
You can view the AAP’s full safe sleep guidelines here. About 3,500 infants die each year from sleep-related infant deaths in the United States.
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