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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

2011 Rules to Fight Crib Death

Nov 15, 2011 12:00AM

A baby's risk of dying while he sleeps is reduced when he is vaccinated, breast-fed and has no 'bumpers' lining the sides of his crib. Those are the new recommendations pediatricians made October 18, 2011, to promote safe sleep for babies and decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death. The recommendations were part of a new official policy on SIDS prevention from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The ideal baby bed consists solely of a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet, according to the AAP. There should be no gaps between the mattress and the crib. While items such as stuffed toys, blankets and bumper pads may make a crib look "cute," these things can be dangerous in an infant's crib. Bumper pads pose a risk of suffocation (if the baby rolls up against the pad and doesn't roll away), and strangulation (if the baby gets tangled in the bumper pad ties.) Any soft objects or bedding that isn't tightly tucked in beneath the mattress also present risks of suffocation and entrapment.

More advice and recommendations from the AAP:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing). This arrangement reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent, research shows.
  • Infants should not be fed on couches or in armchairs when there is a high risk that the parent will fall asleep.
  • Mothers should not smoke before or after pregnancy, as smoking is a major risk factor for SIDS.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Researchers aren't sure why, but using a pacifier is linked with a reduced risk of SIDS, even if the pacifier falls out of the baby's mouth during sleep.
  • Avoid covering the infant's head or allowing him to overheat.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS (there is no evidence such devices are safe, or that they reduce SIDS).
  • While awake, infants should spend some supervised time on their stomachs. This "tummy time" avoids putting constant pressure on the back of the skull. It also strengthens the baby's neck muscles, which reduces the risk of head deformities that can occur when the baby's head lies on one spot for too long.