New guidelines recently issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) call for infants to sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, as mom and dad.
Rooming with Mom and Dad
Kitty Russ, RN, BSN, MSHA, a birthing specialist at Cleveland Clinic, said the recommendation is aimed at reducing the number of sudden deaths of infants that sometimes occur within the first months of life, often due to unsafe sleeping environments.
The idea behind the AAP’s recommendation is to create a heightened sense of awareness and for parents to be able to react to the baby immediately if he or she is in distress.
“Infants don’t have as much neck control and once they get past the six month mark, they’re able to move,” said Russ. “Once infants are rolling over, we find a decrease in the sleep-related deaths.”
The AAP recommendation calls for babies to sleep in their own crib within their parents’ bedroom for at least the first six months of life, or in some cases, the entire first year.
Russ said that the age at which a baby is at less risk for sudden unexplained death varies based on the gestational age of the baby. Babies who are born premature are at risk for a longer period of time than babies who are born at full term.
Safe Sleep Environment
Russ said the most important thing that parents can do to minimize the risk of sudden infant death is to make sure their baby has a safe sleep environment, which includes:
- Placing baby in a crib or bassinet with only a fitted sheet
- Making sure the crib does NOT have bedding, blankets, stuffed animals or crib bumpers
- A smoke-free home
- Comfortable temperature (not too hot or too cold)
- Laying baby on his/her back to avoid obstruction of airway
It’s Difficult, but Necessary
Russ cautions parents against holding their baby to get them to sleep even if they are crying, and said it’s especially dangerous for parents to fall asleep while holding a baby, as the baby can easily suffocate.
“We know when they get home in their own environment they’re just so exhausted and frustrated and tired, and babies get fussy, but we also know that we don’t see babies dying from crying,” said Russ. “We see babies dying from sleep surfaces that aren’t conducive to what we teach.”
Russ encourages parents to follow the safe sleep guidelines every time, even if it seems difficult, because it only takes one time for an accident to happen that can cost the life of a child.
— Submitted by Cleveland Clinic News Service