New recommendations regarding safe sleep were recently released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Unsafe sleep is a significant public health issues as approximately 3500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome.
While the ABC’s of safe sleep basics remain the same – babies should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib, these new recommendations go a bit further to clarify many questions that parents and caregivers may raise as they work to implement safe sleep practices.
Here are a few of my thoughts on key takeaways from the recommendations.
Breastfeeding and safe sleep
Over the years we have struggled to ensure a healthy marriage between breastfeeding and safe sleep because a common myth is that mothers who may choose to breastfeed need to sleep with her baby. The AAP continues to highly encourage breastfeeding (recommendation #3) and they give additional guidance for parents ensuring convenience in a safe sleep environment through recommendation #4 which states infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months.
Positioning wedges and other commercial devices
The recommendations also offer additional clarification around the many commercial devices that are available to parents. I know how overwhelming it can be going through the baby aisles. The AAP suggests parents should avoid the use of commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendation – these could include positioning wedges. When it comes to safe sleep – simple is better.
Media and manufacturers
I was also happy to see these recommendations go a little further in giving guidance to those beyond parents and caregivers –particularly the media and manufacturers. Recommendation #17 suggests that media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in their messaging and advertising. As someone who has blogged many times about the over-the-top decorations in infant bedrooms it’s refreshing to hear this message.
The mother’s health
Finally, the recommendations outline the importance of a mother’s health before, during and after pregnancy in order to ensure optimal health outcomes. Mothers should refrain from smoking and drug use, especially during pregnancy, and obtain consistent prenatal care leading up to a baby’s birth.
Given our local and national statistics regarding safe sleep deaths, there clearly is work to be done. Take the time to review the new AAP recommendations to ensure you know what you can do to prevent these devastating deaths.