Less than half of mothers put babies to sleep correctly

New study shows parents are still putting infants in dangerous positions

Despite a decades-long campaign urging parents to place sleeping babies on their backs, less than half are consistently doing so.

According to a new study, just 43 percent of U.S. moms both intend to use this method and actually do so all the time. The study, published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, surveyed more than 3,000 moms. 77 percent reported that they usually — but not always — put their babies to sleep on their backs.

Keeping children safe

Parents, grandparents and caregivers need to follow the ABCs of sleep: Babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a safe Crib.

Why it matters

“This is disturbing news,” said Erika Janes, injury prevention coordinator with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “Placing babies on their backs before they go to sleep reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as other sleep-related infant deaths like suffocation. Babies who sleep on their stomach have up to 13 times the risk of SIDS.”

The study also found that those who felt that choosing the baby’s sleeping position was not up to them, but rather the baby or another family member, were more than three times as likely to place the baby on its stomach. Other concerns were the baby might choke and that it’s less comfortable than having them sleep on their stomachs.

“We hear all the time, ‘My mom placed me on my stomach and I turned out fine,’ but countless babies have died because of this unsafe practice,” Janes said. “In fact, we lose several babies a month in Louisville due to unsafe sleeping practices such as sharing the adult bed or being placed on their stomach. These are preventable deaths, and it’s clear more education is needed.”