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Infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents for at least the first six months of their lives.

New guidelines say the practice is the best way to minimize the risk of sleep-related deaths, according to U.S. paediatricians.

Ideally, babies should stay in their parents’ room at night for a full year, according to recommendations released today by the American Academy of Paediatrics, reports Daily Mail.

Babies shouldn’t share a bed with parents, however, because that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the guidelines stress.

The safest spot for infant sleep is on a firm surface such as a crib or bassinet without any soft bedding, bumpers or pillows.

Sleeping in the same room, but not in the same bed, may reduce babies’ risk of SIDS by up to 50 per cent, said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a co-author of the AAP guidelines and paediatrics researcher at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, New Jersey.

‘Bed-sharing is potentially hazardous for SIDS, and this is most important for infants under four months of age and those who were premature or low birth weight,’ Feldman-Winter added by email.

The new guidelines also encourage skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth to help prevent SIDS.

With caesarean deliveries, mothers can do this with their babies as soon as they are awake and alert after surgery and, in the meantime, fathers or other caregivers can provide skin-to-skin contact to newborns.

Breastfeeding can also help prevent SIDS, but mothers still shouldn’t sleep with babies in their beds to make nursing more convenient in the middle of the night, according to the guidelines, published in Paediatrics.

SIDS has become much less common in recent decades as doctors have urged parents to put infants to sleep on their backs without pillows or other soft bedding and toys that could pose a suffocation risk.

‘The majority of sleep-related infant deaths occur when babies are sleeping on their stomach, or with soft bedding nearby, or when bed-sharing with their mother, other caregiver or other family members,’ said Dr. Fern Hauck, a paediatrics researcher at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville who serves on the AAP task force on SIDS.

‘The new guidelines emphasize the importance of placing infants on their back for EVERY sleep, naptime or night time, at home, at grandma’s, at daycare and placing babies in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress, without pillows, soft/loose blankets, bumper pads, or other soft objects, in mother’s/parent’s room close to her bed,’ Hauck added.

‘All of these steps will allow for open flow of air to the baby.’

A good reminder

Roughly one in five sleep-related infant deaths occur outside the home, according to a separate study published in Paediatrics.

Researchers examined data on almost 12,000 infant sleep-related deaths from 2004 to 2014.

Compared to babies who died at home, infants who died outside the home were more likely to be found sleeping on their stomachs or in a stroller or car seat instead of a crib or bassinet, the study found.

They were also less likely to be with their parents.

‘Parents often assume that when other people take care of their infant, they also know about infant sleep safety. That is definitely not true,’ said senior study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, a paediatrics researcher at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

‘Parents need to make sure that everyone taking care of their baby follows the A-B-Cs of safe sleep,’ Colvin added.

‘Their infant should always be placed to sleep ‘A’ Alone, with no bed sharing or objects in the sleep area, ‘B’ on their back, and ‘C’ in a crib or bassinet only.’

Share your comments below.

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  • Very interesting article, thank you for that.

    Reply

  • I know they say that your child should be placed on their back when sleeping and no pillows etc. What worries me is if they vomit, it’s likely to block their airways I would have thought. My youngest son slept on his side with a pillow and he is now 33. Maybe I was just lucky. Whatever works in saving babies lives is all that matters.

    Reply

  • These are American guidelines. Our own SIDS research seems to have helped things over the years and I understand our numbers have reduced dramatically. We seem to now understand baby sleeps on its back, with no additional items in the cot or bassinet. Makes sense to me. Sharing my bedroom… is that helpful to both parents during those first and ongoing months? Won’t it just wake up everybody, all the time?

    Reply

  • I am glad there are guidelines but as a SIDS parent from over 26 years ago some of these guidelines would have made no difference. My baby was on her back with no soft bedding or cushions or anything and in a bassinette. When I had my next child many, many years later I slept with her all the time and she is now 17. It is easy to say don’t share a bed with your child but I couldn’t have slept otherwise. My baby girl that I lost to SIDS had also recently been immunised and sometimes I wonder how much that also plays a part and that doctors refuse to talk about in how many cases of SIDS has this occurred?!


    • Sorry to hear you’re a SIDS parent, bless you !!

    Reply

  • I agree that all these guidelines are designed and well intentioned with every baby to be as safe as possible and parents to be educated and understand why safe baby sleeping is important – it saves lives. But this article refers to new American guidelines. I find it hard to keep up to date with constant changes in this area. Nowhere in the article does it say it’s been approved and recommend in Australia. Being a new parent is tough enough – and constantly changing advice and guidelines I can see can only lead to confusion and in some cases the worst being ignorance as they are too much to keep up with. When it comes to safe baby sleep I think it’s crucial to point out the difference between an overseas new recommendations compared to what’s approved and recommend here in Australia.

    Reply

  • Babies like to wrapped firmly as they feel “secure”. Most swaddles if done up properly are too tight and don’t allow enough movement if a baby has severe reflux. If a baby blanket is long enough you can tuck the surplus under their feet and legs. If you are shopping for groceries you have no option but put your baby in the “capsule” seat of the trolley if too small to sit up or have somebody with you and your baby in a stroller. Often they will go to sleep. Whilst baby capsules have safety benefits, they don’t if a baby vomits and chokes on his/her own vomit, facing away from you with their head raised you are unlikely to hear them. If a baby is lying curled up against you when at home or out visiting vomit run out of the side of the mouth, very difficult if a baby is lying on his/her back. A relative’s toddler almost choked to death asleep in her cot sleeping on her back. Lucky her Mum was awake and heard her.

    Reply

  • The guide lines keep changing, it’s so hard to keep up with and remember them all

    Reply

  • I hope these recommendations do save lives.

    Reply

  • The new guild lines can only help the lives of babies.

    Reply

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