An update on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and baby sleep safety has revealed that room-sharing reduces the risk of cot death by as much as 50%.
The latest guidelines published in the journal Pediatrics now recommend that parents sleep in the same room as their baby, but not in the same bed. New evidence suggests that sleeping in the parents’ room, but on a separate surface decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. The new guidelines recommend that parents’ place their baby’s crib in their bedroom until the baby’s first birthday.
About 3 500 infants in the US die every year from sleep-related deaths, including SIDS and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, according to the updated report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) task force on SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
What about breastfeeding in bed?
Babies who are brought into bed for a feeding should be placed back into their crib when parents are ready to go back to sleep. However, the AAP acknowledges that moms often fall asleep while feeding their baby, which is why they suggest taking the baby to bed for a feed, instead of using a couch or rocking chair, as it is safer.
A large percentage of babies who die of SIDS are found with their heads covered by bedding, according to the report. It’s important to clear the bed of any pillows, sheets or blankets that could obstruct the baby’s breathing or cause overheating should you fall asleep during a feed.
5 factors than can increase the risk of SIDS:
The following bed-sharing practices should be avoided at all times, as studies have found they significantly increase the risk of SIDS:
- Bed-sharing with a healthy baby younger than four months, a preterm baby and a low birth weight baby.
- Bed-sharing with a current smoker (even if they don’t smoke in bed), or if you smoked during your pregnancy.
- Bed-sharing with someone who is not able to wake easily due to fatigue, sedating medications or alcohol and drugs.
- Bed-sharing with anyone who is not the baby’s parent, including siblings and non-parental caregivers.
- Bed-sharing on a soft surface like a waterbed, old mattress, couch or armchair.
Safe sleeping recommendations for infants from the AAP:
- Always put your baby to sleep on her back until she reaches the age of one.
- Make sure the mattress in your baby’s cot or crib is firm and free of any soft bedding or too many blankets that can lead to suffocation or overheating.
- Avoid smoking near your baby.
- Let your baby sleep in your room in her own crib for at least the first six months.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.