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Safe Infant Sleep: help baby sleep safely!

The Safe Kids Missoula Coalition led by Fdn for Com Health works hard to promote important child safety messages. Each month, they focus on a different topic related to preventable child accidents, injuries and deaths. This month, the Child Development Center’s own Early Intervention Coordinator, Hollin Buck, wrote an editorial about safe infant sleep on behalf of the Coalition. It printed in the Missoulian Newspaper, and we’re sharing it below.

Why Safe Sleep is Important for Babies

Safe Infant Sleep

Babies should sleep on their backs in a clutter-free crib.
(Purestock image)

As a new parent, you think A LOT about sleep…Probably most of what you think about is how little sleep you are getting now that your little one has arrived! We obsess about how often and how long our baby sleeps, but there is another important aspect: safe infant sleep.

Sadly, sleep-related deaths are the No. 1 cause of death for children age 1 month to 1 year. Unintentional suffocation is a leading culprit. Nearly three-quarters of suffocation deaths among infants occur in the sleep environment. As alarming as these statistics are, there are simple steps you can take to significantly decrease the risks.

Top Tips for a Safe Sleep Environment

The American Academy of Pediatrics put out new safe infant sleep recommendations this fall. These three tips summarize their priorities.

  • Share a room: Keep your baby sleeping in the same room as you (but NOT the same bed) for the first six months to one year. Sharing a room makes feeding convenient. It also provides close contact without the dangers of sharing a bed. Room sharing significantly reduces the risk of sleep-related infant death, decreasing SIDS alone by as much as 50 percent.
  • Back to sleep for every sleep: Lay your baby on his or her back to sleep for naps and bedtime. The number of sleep-related infant deaths has dropped by more than 60 percent since the Back to Sleep campaign launched in the 1990s. Expert Tip: Balance your baby’s development with supervised tummy time at least once a day when awake.
  • Keep a simple crib: Extra blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals make a baby’s sleeping space seem cozy, but they can be dangerous. Accessories and soft bedding can lead to accidental overheating, strangulation and suffocation. A firm sleep surface covered with a tight-fitting sheet is all you need.

Beyond the Basics

In addition, there is growing evidence that using a fan to circulate air in the room can decrease the risk of sleep-related infant death. It is also important to avoid exposing your baby to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs during pregnancy and after birth. You should also seek pre-natal care to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Safe sleep habits should be practiced wherever your baby sleeps, even when not in a crib. When babies fall asleep in their strollers or car seats, always ensure that straps are securely fastened and that there are no blankets, toys or other accessories that could fall around their face. When baby-wearing, or using a baby carrier, follow the guidelines to make sure the baby is in a safe position.

These important steps can help your baby sleep safely. Every baby is different, though, so it’s important to talk with your pediatrician or a sleep consultant about any concerns you may have. With this information, you can make sure that baby (and you!) are getting enough good, safe sleep to ensure happiness and health!

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