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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Safe Sleeping for Your Baby

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We have some very important tips on safe sleeping for infants from Erika Janes, RN, Coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville & Jefferson County - a program led by Kosair Children's Hospital, Office of Child Advocacy.
 
What is the most dangerous thing we unknowingly do for our babies?
One of the threats, if not the biggest, to an infant’s life is suffocation which is often associated with an unsafe sleeping environment and position.

This includes sleeping with your baby on an adult bed, couch, chair, etc., and putting the baby down to sleep on their belly instead of on their back-unless the doctor specifically says differently! Babies’ airways can become compromised easily, and they have no way to protect themselves - and get out of the situation they are in. Even infants whose death may be documented as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) were often sleeping in one of these situations, and that may have contributed to their death.
 
My baby likes to sleep next to me…is that okay?
NO! If you want to bring your baby to your bed to breastfeed, please position yourself so you will not fall asleep and be able to put the baby back to sleep in their safe bed, bassinet, or play yard after nursing.
 
Are there any risk factors one should know about with respect to SIDS?
Yes! The task force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome of the American Academy of Pediatrics-the authority on babies and children- has just released their latest policy statement and information on this topic. I strongly encourage everyone to read this document carefully It can be found at www.aap.org.

The following is an abbreviated list of their Level A Recommendations: 
1) “Back to Sleep” for every sleep.
2) Use a firm sleep surface-A firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet is the recommended sleeping surface to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation. A crib, bassinet, or portable crib/play yard that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. Do not leave babies to sleep in their child safety seats or any “sitting device”.
3) Room-sharing without bed-sharing is recommended. There is evidence that this arrangement decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
4) Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment and strangulation. (a. Soft objects such as pillows and pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, and sheepskins should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment.)
5) Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care.
6) Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth- both are major risk factors for SIDS.
7) Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.  There is an increased risk of SIDS with prenatal and postnatal exposure to alcohol or illicit drug use.
8) Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a decreased risk of SIDS.
9) Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime- even though the mechanism of protection is unclear, studies have reported a protective effect on the incidence of SIDS.
10) Avoid overheating- studies have revealed an increased risk of SIDS with overheating…Watch infant for signs of overheating such as sweating or infant’s chest feeling hot to touch.
 
It’s getting colder…at what age can my baby be covered up with a blanket in his/her crib?
From birth, a baby can be dressed in sleep sack with a swaddle and then placed on their back into the safe crib. When the baby is able to wiggle arms out of the swaddle, remove swaddle from sleep sack!

Another option could be to use a “onesie” or other similar clothing with a very light blanket that comes up only to the chest and is tightly tucked in at both sides and the foot of the crib.
 
What’s your #1 safety tip for infants?
Please practice the “A, B, C’s” for infants! They need to sleep Alone, on their Back in a safe Crib for every nap and at bedtime! When they are awake and someone is watching, make sure they get plenty of “Tummy Time” to both strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles and to prevent a flat spot on the back of their head.

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