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New Research to Keep Sleeping Babies Safe

By Sandy Schroeder

Sleep-related deaths of infants are the most common reason for the death of babies between the age of one month and one year, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Deaths include sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, and accidental strangulation and suffocation.

New Questions Raised

Knowing what to do can be very basic, but new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests many parents are not always using the safest methods.

The Academy did a study of sleeping babies using videos to see what was actually happening. Researchers videoed babies in their homes when they were ages one, three and six months. Surprisingly, the videos showed many parents put their babies in danger, placing the infants on their sides or stomachs, using soft or loose blankets, or putting the baby in bed with a parent. Dangerous items included loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and bumper pads.

Study Risk Results

Looking closer, up to 21 percent of the babies were placed on the wrong sleep surface. Up to 33 percent were placed in unsafe positions, and up to 93 percent had risky items in their beds.  During the night, 12 to 28 percent of the babies were moved, often to a more risky spot in bed with a parent.

Seeing the amount of questionable behavior that exists, pediatricians said parents may be acting out of fatigue and exhaustion, making bad decisions in the middle of the night. If you have a baby who is a restless sleeper, you know all too well how exhausted you can become. I remember feeling like a zombie as my first child went through colic.

Warnings Go Out

In response to this new video study, pediatricians are moving to get the word out, to let all new parents know how serious the dangers are.  Dr. Ian Paul, author of the new study said, Perhaps we have to make it even simpler. We need to be extremely clear, and we need to model safe sleep environments when babies are in the hospital.”

The Best Model

For all new parents, the best way to keep your baby safe is to put the baby in its crib alone, and on its back.   

If you are a new parent facing the challenge of sleepless nights with a new baby, don’t hesitate to get help. Enlist some support in the daytime, so you can catch up on your sleep with a few naps.

Talk with your pediatrician, and your spouse, to be clear on the best ways to protect your baby. Before you know it, your baby will move on to all of the other exciting stages from toddlerhood to teens. But this is an important first step to keep them safe, and you reassured.


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