The AAP recently published a policy statement that significantly strengthens its recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Among its recommendations:
- Always place your baby on her back on a firm sleep surface, particularly a crib or playpen that conforms to current safety standards. Adult’s mattresses, couches, and recliners are not recommended.
- SIDS may be decreased by as much as 50% by having infants sleep in the same room as their parents, but NOT in the same bed with parents. The AAP policy states that infants may be brought into bed for feeding but should be returned to their bassinet or crib as soon as feeding is done. This arrangement markedly decreases the chance that baby will be accidentally harmed during sleep. Particularly risky for cosleeping are infants whose parents are smokers, excessively tired, or medicated with alcohol, street drugs, or prescription drugs that cause fatigue.
- The crib should be bare. No bumpers, blankets, sheets or stuffed animals should be in an infant’s crib during sleep.
- Commercial devices to position a baby (including wedges, nursing pillows, sleep nests) should not be used.
- Carseats should not be used for sleeping due to the possibility of the baby’s head falling forward and obstructing the airway.
- Tummy time of 30-60 minutes per day with an adult supervising is recommended to facilitate development and minimize positional flattening of the skull.
- Home heart and breathing monitors to prevent SIDS are not effective and should not be used.
Dr B has long taken a relaxed stance on cosleeping, as she coslept with her babies when they were young. However, given the mounting evidence that infant safety can be greatly enhanced by increased vigilance about returning babies to their own beds after nighttime feeding, Dr B agrees with the newer recommendations to help keep babies safer.