The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new study this week that includes their recommendation that infants should sleep in the same room with their parents for at least 6 months, and preferably one year, to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The AAP maintains that if babies sleep in close proximity to their parents but on a different sleeping surface (i.e., not in bed with mom and dad, but in a crib or bassinet), their risk of SIDS will be reduced by 50%. That’s a HUGE risk reduction, and definitely worth paying attention to!
A SIDS death occurs while an infant is sleeping—and the cause is unknown. However, if a parent is nearby when the infant is sleeping, signs of distress are more likely to be seen and corrected by the parent. It just makes sense. In addition, while SIDS technically applies to infant deaths within the first year of life, 90% of SIDS deaths occur during the first 6 months of life, which is why the study specifically says infants should sleep near parents for at LEAST the first 6 months.
Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a co-author of the study, said “The whole phenomenon of SIDS implies that we don’t know 100 percent what is responsible for the death, but we have theories.” Those theories include genetics and sleep apnea or similar conditions that make a child more vulnerable to suffocation. What the study really aims to bring to the forefront is that “a baby that is within reach of their mother may have more comfort, or physical stimulation from being in an environment with another person.” It should also be noted that baby being closer to mom promotes breastfeeding, which has also shown to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS—to the tune of 70%.
So, parents of infants, add keeping your baby close at night during his or her first year to this list of classic ways to decrease the risk of SIDS:
- Put infant to sleep on back
- Use a tight-fitting crib or bassinet sheet
- Avoid soft bedding inside the crib or bassinet
- Make sure the sleeping surface is firm
- Never have baby sleep on a couch or cushioned chair
My babies aren’t babies anymore, and my first child went into his own room at about 8 weeks old—but younger two were in my room for at least 6 months for ease of breastfeeding since they took a lot longer to start sleeping through the night. Where do YOUR babies sleep? What do you think about these new guidelines?