Follow the ABCs to Reduce Infant Death During Sleep
Of all the “It could never happen to me!” moments in our lives, infant mortality, the death of a baby before he or she reaches the age of one, tops the list. No one wants to imagine the possibility of their infant not living to see his or her first birthday. It’s even harder to believe that your actions, intended to comfort and protect your child, might actually lead directly to tragedy. Yet 1,005 infants in Ohio died in 2015. Educating yourself as a parent of an infant could save your baby’s life. Here are some critical tips to help keep your baby safe.
It’s hard to imagine that a cherished practice like putting a baby to sleep may ultimately lead to death, and that how we protect them often can hurt them. As parents, you try to learn all about how to take care of a new baby, such as nutrition and breastfeeding, but you may assume the nightly routine of putting an infant to sleep comes naturally. It’s hard to imagine something as simple as sharing a bed with your baby would put his or her life in danger.
Tragically, these statistics do not support our assumptions:
- More than three Ohio infants die each week due to unsafe sleep environments.
- Alarmingly, infant sleep-related deaths outnumber deaths of children of all ages from vehicular crashes.
- 42% of infant deaths in a child’s first year are sleep-related.
- 60% of those deaths happen in adult beds.
- 66% of adult bed deaths occur when the infant was sleeping with someone else.
Have Infant Sleep In Our Bedrooms, But Not In Our Beds The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your bedroom, but not in your bed. Bedding, the mattress, or even your body can suffocate the baby. Placing a crib, bassinet or pack n’ play in your bedroom offers comfort for the baby and for you. Room-sharing instead of bed-sharing for nighttime and naps is one way to keep your baby safe. Remember, chairs, sofas and couches are extremely dangerous places for your baby to sleep. You may be able to receive a free crib through the Ohio Department of Health. To learn more, visit safesleep.ohio.gov.
Always Place Infant on Back to Sleep Laying a baby on his or her back may appear uncomfortable, but it is the only position an infant should sleep in before he or she starts rolling over. It may be hard for grandparents to accept that back sleeping is the safest, especially if their children slept on their stomachs, but new studies have shown that back sleeping carries the lowest risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).Remember to tell grandparents, babysitters and any other caregivers to always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. It is important to the baby’s development to spend time on his stomach so plan tummy time for when he or she is awake and under supervision.
Dress Infant for Safety With Specially Designed Sleepwear but No Blankets Sleepwear such as sleep sacks and infant sleepers are designed to keep your baby warm and allow him or her to move around freely. Extra blankets and bumper pads in the sleep space are unnecessary and increase the risk of suffocation. Keep all loose bedding out of the crib including pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, toys and bumper pads. There is no need to crank up the heat to compensate for the lack of blanket; room temperatures should remain comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Babies can and will overheat easily, so keep the room temperature between 68–72 degrees.
The Ohio Department of Health has created a website dedicated to the best infant sleep practices. In addition, this website provides recommendations on subjects such as breastfeeding and regular pre- and postnatal care, to reduce the risk of SIDS. Go to the ODH website now, print and post the Safety-Approved Tips to improve the safety of sleeping conditions for your infant.