Infant Fatalities on the Rise Due to Bed Sharing
Did your pediatrician talk to you about safe sleep for your baby? Many parents received no advice from their health care provider or received wrong advice about safe sleep practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the ABC’s of Safe Sleep – Alone, on the Back, in a Crib. There was a sharp decline in the 1990’s when the AAP created the “Back to Sleep” campaign but the numbers have been rising dramatically again. Earlier this year, the AAP reported that infant death rates from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed surged 184 percent!
Since we lose more than 20 babies each year in Clark County due to accidental rollovers or suffocation, it’s a topic that needs our attention. There are various reasons why parents continue to bedshare with baby, but talking about the life-threatening possibilities is imperative. The leading causes for these deaths are co-sleeping in an adult bed or falling asleep on a couch or chair with baby.
During bed sharing a baby can be hurt by:
- Getting trapped by the bed’s frame, headboard or footboard
- Getting stuck between the bed and the wall, furniture or other objects
- Falling off the bed
- Suffocating from pillows, blankets or quilts
- When an adult or sibling rolls on top of baby
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that bed sharing contributes to more than 3,500 sleep-related deaths every year. Despite the recommendations from the AAP to share a room with baby for the first year of life, but not the same bed, the rate of bed sharing has continued to rise.
Myths and misconceptions surround bed sharing. Many parents believe that bed sharing is critical to bonding with baby. But bonding occurs when feeding, bathing, holding and playing with baby. Tummy time on a playmat is particularly important as it builds baby’s upper body strength to roll over, sit up and crawl.
Here are some guidelines to ensure baby sleeps safely:
- Place baby on his or her back, using a firm sleep surface, such as a crib, bassinet or pack and play. Make sure the sheet fits tightly. Baby’s crib should be a safe haven.
- Never use soft bedding. This means no crib bumpers, no blankets, no pillows, no soft toys. If it’s cold in the room, baby should wear a warm onesie. But do not use blankets.
- Keep baby in the parent’s room, but not on the same sleep surface, from birth to six months.
- Never leave baby sleeping on an adult bed, sofa or arm chair.
- Breastfeed for the first six months when possible.
- Offer a pacifier once breastfeeding is established.
- Use a sleep sack, not a loose blanket, to keep baby warm.
For more information, visit SafeSleepAcademy.org
By Kim Amato
Founder & Executive Director of Baby’s Bounty
Community Program Coordinator-Southwest of Cribs for Kids