In the U.S. alone, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) takes the lives of up to 3,500 infants in the first year of life. That it occurs suddenly, is largely inexplicable, and attacks seemingly otherwise healthy infants makes SIDS that much more frightening. In recent years, widely disseminated guidelines have greatly reduced the number of SIDS-related deaths. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new and even more specific guidelines—some of which may surprise parents.
We asked local expert LaToya Bates, director for Infant and Child Loss at the University of Maryland Department of Pediatrics, to weigh in.
Most parents know that the AAP recommends placing infants to sleep on their backs in a bed with a firm surface and no blankets, pillows or other obstructions to create a good sleep environment. But did you know that the AAP also says children should sleep in the same room as their parents—but on a different surface—preferably for the entire first year of life?
The benefit of parents sleeping in the same room as their babies, but on different surfaces, is two-fold, explains UM School of Medicine’s Bates.
“You can monitor for sounds of distress,” Bates says. And, she point out, it also gives parents a sense of comfort knowing their baby is near.
Giving infants a pacifier when they are put to sleep is another recommendation newly emphasized by the AAP to reduce the risk of SIDS. “The pacifier helps with the baby’s stimulus and arousal patterns, so they don’t fall into a deep sleep,” Bates says.
To read the news release from the AAP on guidelines to reduce the risk of SIDS—the organization’s first update on the topic since 2011—click here.