Washington: Babies should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents during the first year of their lives, but on a separate crib or bassinet, to decrease the risks of sudden sleep-related deaths, US experts say.
The new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics draws on new research that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants; addresses the use of bedside and in-bed sleepers; and adds to recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment. "Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous," said lead author Rachel Moon, from the University of Virginia.
About 3,500 infants die annually in the US from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); ill-defined deaths; and accidental suffocation and strangulation. The number of infant deaths initially decreased in the 1990s after a national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years.
According to the new recommendations, babies should be put on their back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. Soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys, should not be used. The crib should be bare, experts said.
The baby should share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns one, but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 per cent, researchers said. Skin-to-skin care is recommended, regardless of feeding or
delivery method, immediately following birth for at least an hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake, they said.
Breastfeeding is also recommended as adding protection against SIDS. After feeding, experts encourage parents to move babies to their separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents' bedroom. "If you are feeding your baby and think that there's even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair," said
Lori Feldman-Winter, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report.
"As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed," Feldman-Winter. "There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant's breathing or cause overheating," she said. While infants are at heightened risk for SIDS between the ages one and four months, new evidence shows that soft bedding continues to pose hazards to babies who are four months and older. The research was published in the journal Pediatrics....