New safe sleep guidelines reinforce putting baby to bed on back, alone

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Soft blankets and cute stuffed animals are all adorable, but they also are potentially deadly to babies when they sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued its first update to its Safe Sleep guidelines since 2016. The recommendations put official backing to many things educators already were teaching parents, and reinforce the need for babies to sleep flat on their backs and alone.

Stormont Vail Birthplace safe sleep educator Danielle Twemlow says the new recommendations restate the “ABCs” of safe sleep for babies.

“We always want babies to be alone, on their back, in a clutter-free crib,” she said.

When it comes to the crib, drop the decorations. No blankets or stuffed animals inside, no quilts or bumpers draped over the sides, and babies who are well enough to come home do not need to wear a hat to bed.

“Those are all additional items where they can get their face up next to it and suffocate, or potentially become entrapped,” Twemlow said. “We don’t want to put any blankets on, because blankets can move and get over the face. Babies do not have the ability to pull them off.”

The new guidelines also reinforce having babies sleep on their back on flat, non-inclined surfaces.

“We know that, anatomically, we are kind of giving the best way if we do have spitting up, for it to not travel into the lungs,” Twemlow said. “We know that flat on our back on a firm surface allows for babies to take nice, big, deep breaths. Being on our tummy or on our side – that allows for babies to roll or move in positions that can put their face up against a surface and can’t breath and make a good exchange of oxygen.”

Even before the updated guidelines, in May, President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, pulling padded crib bumpers and inclined sleepers off the market by the end of the year.

Twemlow says bumpers date back to a time when cribs were made differently.

“A soda should not be able to fit through those slats. We have created safer sleep environments and no longer need those bumpers,” she said.

The new guidelines also stress co-sleeping under any circumstances is not safe.

According to the State Child Death Review Board, of the sleep-related infants deaths in Kansas in 2021, 55 percent were in an adult bed, and 61 percent were sharing a sleep surface.

Twemlow said there are several reasons putting baby in an adult bed can be unsafe.

“Rousing can be very difficult when we’re sleep-deprived,” she said. “(Also), any time we have that extra bedding – pillows, blankets, even the loose clothing that we have on our own bodies – are not safe environments for babies.”

Twemlow said it is recommended that babies sleep in the same room as a caregiver for the first six months, however they should be in a separate crib or bassinette.

The guidelines also point out that exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke can increase risk of SIDS, while using a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, and breast feeding may reduce risk of SIDS.

If you do buy used cribs, portable playpens, or any other items for children, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s web site – cpsc.gov – to ensure it has not been recalled.

You can view the complete AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines here. Approximately 3,500 infants die from sleep-related infant deaths annually in the United States.

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