Every year, between 40 and 50 babies in New York City die from a sleep-related injury. That’s almost one baby every week. The good news is these deaths are preventable. Read below to learn more about sleep-related injury deaths and how to safely put your baby to sleep.
What is a Sleep-Related Injury Death?
A sleep-related injurydeath is the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year old that occurs because of where and/or how they were placed to sleep. Sleep-related infant injury death is not the same as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or “crib death.” SIDS is the natural death of a baby that cannot be explained after a careful medical review of the case. Unlike SIDS, sleep-related infant injury deaths involve accidents that can be explained and are mostly preventable.
Creating a Safe Sleep Environment
Here are the most recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), issued in October 2016, for where and how to safely place your baby to sleep:
Until their first birthday – for naps and at night. Babies breathe better on their backs than on their stomachs or sides. Sleeping on their backs opens up their chests and makes it easier for them to draw in more oxygen to their brains. Babies who sleep on their sides can more easily roll onto their stomach, making it harder for them to breathe and increasing their risk of suffocation. Babies are also MORE likely to choke, if they spit up, when placed on their stomach.
Your baby should never sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair with you or anyone else (e.g., other children or pets). Babies may suffocate if another person accidently rolls on top of them or covers their nose and mouth.
Keep your baby’s sleep area near your bed for the first 6 to 12 months. Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard next to your bed. This is called room sharing and will make it easier for you to feed, comfort and watch your baby without increasing the risk of sleep-related injury death.
If you bring your baby into bed with you to feed or comfortthem, make sure you put them back in their bed before you fall asleep. Placing your baby’s crib next to your bed can help make this easier. If you fall asleep in bed with your baby while feeding or comforting them, place them back to sleep in their own crib as soon as you wake up.
Use a firm sleep surface with a fitted sheet made for that specific product.
A crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that meets safety standards is recommended. Babies should be placed on a flat surface for all sleep times. Though it might seem more comfortable to put a pillow on top of the mattress, babies may suffocate on the soft surface.
Do not use a car seat, carrier, swing, bouncer or similar product as a sleep area.
Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa or chair. These surfaces are not designed for a baby to sleep on and are very dangerous. A baby can get easily trapped between cushions, people or other objects that can cause him or her to suffocate.
Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any other items that could increase the risk of suffocation out of the baby’s sleep area.
Loose and soft bedding can be very dangerous to a baby. Do not place pillows, blankets, toys, or bumper pads anywhere in your baby’s sleep area. If one of those things gets on the baby’s face, he may not be able to move his face away and can suffocate.