Fall is in the air and that means cool nights snuggling under a blanket reading a good book, watching TV or perhaps catching a few zzz’s. Though it may seem irresistible to snuggle up with a baby, that’s one thing you should avoid doing any time of the year.
“Allowing a baby to snuggle in the arms of a sleeping adult or on the chest of an adult, or sleeping with a baby in an adult bed, is putting the baby at risk for suffocation,” said Erika Janes, R.N., child advocate with Norton Children’s Hospital. At least 2,200 babies in the United States die each year from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related environment issues, such as suffocation from bed sharing (or sleeping on an adult’s chest) or being placed to sleep on their stomach.
In 2012 alone, 19 children in Jefferson County, Kentucky died from an unsafe sleep environment and/ or position. Always putting babies to sleep in a safe way is key to preventing these heartbreaking deaths and eliminating this sobering statistic.
“Though it’s tempting, if you fall asleep with the baby next to you or on you, you could roll over onto the baby or the baby could slide off your chest, become wedged and suffocate,” Janes said. “I cannot stress how important it is for babies to only sleep alone, on their backs, in a crib.”
To keep children safe, always follow the “ABCs of sleep”: Babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a safe Crib. A bassinet or play yard, assembled and used correctly, are also safe sleeping areas.
It’s a misconception that babies who sleep on their back are at risk for choking if they spit up or vomit during sleep. Babies have a reflex to keep their airway clear. They will automatically cough up or swallow fluid that they spit up or vomit. Studies show no increase in the number of deaths from choking among babies who
This, however, does not mean that babies should never be placed on their stomach. Spending time on the stomach, often called “tummy time,” helps with neck and shoulder development. Babies should only be placed in this position while awake and supervised.
Other ways to keep baby sleeping safely
• Do not let a baby sleep on a soft surface such as a sofa, soft mattress or on pillows. These items can obstruct breathing.
• Do not allow your baby to sleep with other children or adults either in bed or on a sofa or chair.
• Keep pillows, stuffed animals and other soft materials, including bumper pads, out of the crib. These can obstruct breathing.
• Do not cover your baby in the crib with blankets or comforters. Instead, use footed pajamas or a sleep sack.
• Keep the room temperature comfortable for a lightly clothed adult so that a blanket isn’t necessary.
• Babies who fall asleep in a car seat or other sitting device should be gently placed on the back in a safe sleeping area.
• Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home.
For additional information on safe sleep, including helpful videos and a downloadable brochure, visit NortonChildrensHospital.com/Sleep.