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The Informed Parent

Safe Infant Sleep: Protect Your Infant From SIDS And Sleep-related Deaths

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Mar. 19, 2012

1. All infants should be placed on their backs to sleep until one year of age.
Once infants are able to roll to their stomach on their own (usually not until five-to-six months of age or later), they can remain in that sleep position. However, they should still be placed to sleep on their backs.

2. Place the baby to sleep on a firm, flat mattress with only a fitted sheet.
Adult beds or soft mattresses increase the risk of suffocation. Devices such as sleep positioners or wedges do not prevent SIDS and some have been recalled due to increased risk of SIDS.

3. Do NOT put loose bedding or soft objects such as pillows, comforters, quilts, bumper pads, or stuffed animals in the crib.
Tightly swaddling or using a sleep sack are safe options when used properly. Ask your pediatrician if you are not sure how to swaddle safely.

4. Room sharing in separate beds (traditionally a bassinet or crib for the baby) is recommended. Bed sharing with anybody, including twins or multiple infants in the same bed, increases risk for SIDS.
Many infant and even toddler deaths are associated with bed sharing with parents.

5. Car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers and infant slings should NOT be used for routine sleep.
These can put infants in a position that can cause airway obstruction or suffocation.

6. Avoid smoke exposure, alcohol and illicit drug use.
These are associated with increased risk of SIDS if used during pregnancy or after the baby’s birth, especially with bed sharing.

7. Exclusive breastfeeding.
If possible, breastfeeding for the first six months has been proven to protect against SIDS, but any amount of breastfeeding has a protective effect.

8. Offer a pacifier at sleep time.
Evidence shows this may prevent SIDS. Start a pacifier after breastfeeding has been well established, after two-to-three weeks usually. If the pacifier falls out of the mouth during sleep there is no need to reinsert it.

9. Ceiling fans and good air circulation.
These may prevent SIDS according to research.

10. Do NOT overdress the baby.
Overheating is a risk factor for SIDS. Infants should not need more than one extra layer of clothing compared to an adult.

11. Make sure infant immunizations are up to date.
Evidence shows vaccines protect against SIDS.

12. Daily tummy time should be supervised, while the baby is awake.

If you have specific questions regarding safe sleep practices, please ask your pediatrician. SIDS can be prevented in many cases by following these guidelines.

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