Sleep with baby but not in the same bed
TO REDUCE the risk of sudden death, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents, but in their own crib or bassinet for the first year of life, US doctors said.
The new policy statement by the American Academy of Paediatrics still says babies should sleep on their backs, on a clean surface free of toys and blankets, a guideline that has been in place since the 1990s and has reduced sudden infant deaths by about 50%.
Still, some 3,500 infants die each year in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation and strangulation.
The main change to the AAP guidelines, which were last issued in 2011, is the specific call for infants to stay in their parents’ room for six months to a year if possible – but not sleep in the same bed.
“Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person,” said lead author Rachel Moon. “We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous.”
Experts say that urging parents to put babies to sleep on their backs instead of their bellies helped drive down the rate of sudden infant death. That advice still stands.
Deaths from SIDS have plateaued in recent years, but it is still the leading killer of babies aged one month to one year. The highest risk period for SIDS comes between the ages one to four months. But SIDS is rare in babies older than eight months.
Children may become entangled in bedding, or suffocate under bumpers or toys, get squeezed in the corner of a couch or armchair, get overheated, or simply stop breathing for no apparent reason.
“It is nothing but tragic,” said Peter Richel, chief of the department of paediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital, who remembers losing two patients in the past 26 years to sudden infant death – a four-month-old boy and a two-week-old girl.
Other risk factors for SIDS include smoking in the home, and exposing babies to drugs or alcohol.
The AAP policy also suggests placing newborns skin-to-skin with the mother “immediately following birth for at least an hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake”.
Breastfeeding is recommended, but mothers are urged to move the baby to a separate sleeping space afterward.
Other strategies include offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, and making sure infants get all their recommended vaccines. – The Independent