Get Your Baby Out of Your Bed: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Update!

Co-sleeping has gained popularity over the years. Cuddling and snuggling…doesn’t that offer the greatest sense of security for your baby? Yes, but not in your bed! A recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, confirms that the highest risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infants three months and younger is bed-sharing. While this doesn’t erase the risk of SIDS from co-sleeping for older infants, it does help moms realize that sleep environment safety is of the utmost importance from day one.Baby Sleeping With Mother

Unfortunately, day one is when bed sharing is the most attractive. Your cuddly newborn longs to be held, snuggled, and fed constantly. And, while napping in bed with your infant may make nursing more convenient…it’s just too risky. Trust me, I know how exhausting nursing a newborn can be! Co-sleeping does let moms get just a little extra shut-eye at night, and in a sleep deprived world, every extra moment of sleep counts! But, moments matter for your infant as well. It only takes a moment for your child to become a victim of SIDS or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). That is a moment that you NEVER want to encounter!Fingers Of Newborn Baby

Having had a preemie, I know more than many moms about kangaroo care. For nine weeks in the NICU all that I did was Kangaroo my baby (Okay, I did a little more than that according to the breast pump and stock piled freezer and fridge). Even after we made it home, I continued to Kangaroo for months. There is definitely evidence to say that skin to skin and close contact with an infant is imperative for their mental and physical wellbeing-from heart rate and breathing regulation to increased oxygenation and bonding. And, while I’m an advocate for kangaroo care, I’m also an advocate for SIDS and SUIDS prevention. Doing what is safest for an infant is always what is best in the short-term and long-term. While there may be validity to the benefits of co-sleeping/bed-sharing, these benefits don’t out weigh the risk of death from SIDS and SUIDS.Newborn Beautiful Baby Sleeping

Every mom wants to do what is best for her infant, and creating a special bond between baby and mommy is definitely BEST!  Ensuring INFANT SAFETY is also BEST! So…what’s a mom to do? Here are some SAFE ways to bond with your infant (note…co-sleeping/bed-sharing doesn’t make the cut!)

1. Take the time to snuggle your baby during the day (or, if you are working, snuggle in the evening)Mother Playing With Her Baby Boy Son On Bed

2.  Let your infant sleep on your chest…while you are awake. You can do this in bed or in a recliner as long as you are awake and aware of your baby’s position.

3.  Incorporate Kangaroo Care (skin to skin contact) into your routine. Strip your baby down to his/her diaper and either take off your shirt or use an open, button-down shirt. Place the baby directly on your chest and then cover over with a blanket. Enjoy the special bond that skin to skin contact can bring. (If you are breast-feeding you may even notice that you have a milk let-down. If you have trouble with let-downs Kangarooing would be great to try before feedings)Young Mother Breastfeeding A Baby In Nature

4. Carry your baby in an infant carrier such as a Moby or Ergo when you are up and about. This will allow your baby to enjoy your sense of closeness while allowing you to get things done around the house (who am I kidding! REVISION…while it allows you to wash pumping equipment, bottles, and pacifiers that the dog stole)Happy Mother Breast Feeding Her Baby Infant

5. Sing to your baby even if you have a horrible voice! If it is truly horrific…talk to your baby in soothing tones. Your baby was used to hearing your voice before delivery. Hearing you now will bring your baby a sense of security and calm. If you can’t think of what to say, reading a book to your infant is another great way to engage and bond. It’s also great for your child’s language development.

6. Massage your infant. Massage has been found to have a relaxing effect on infants. Its benefits have even made it a part of many NICU’s occupational therapy sessions for preemies. In addition to providing relaxation, infant massage can help with constipation and gas! It also helps prevent the newborn (especially preemies) from being hypersensitive to touch and can even enhance a baby’s immune system.

7. Play with your baby. While this may sound trivial or like a no-brainer, play time with your infant  creates an important bond. Letting your infant see you smile, laugh, tease, and tickle will enhance your infant’s sense of security and love. You may even be rewarded with a squeal!Beautiful Mother And Baby outdoors. Nature. Beauty Mum and her C

While these are just a few ideas to promote infant and mommy bonding, take the time to find other safe and fun ways to create special connections with your baby. While co-sleeping/bed-sharing may have its benefits, err on the side of caution. The bond that co-sleeping brings isn’t worth the risk of SIDS or SUIDS. Don’t be a mom with regrets!Mother Father And Baby Feet Under Blanket

From The Mom in Me, MD


4 thoughts on “Get Your Baby Out of Your Bed: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Update!

  1. I do agree that safe sleep is important.. but once again you have used the word “prevent” (which I detest used in conjunction with SIDS discussions in the following phrase: ” I’m also an advocate for SIDS and SUIDS prevention.” I also know that co-sleeping can increase the risk, but I also have a hard time with associating SIDS and sleep position, because the focus on safe sleep seems to lend an idea that you can “prevent” SIDS, and thus then that parents are at fault. Studies by Dr. Kinney at Boston Children’s Hospital are showing brain stem defects in our babies, no matter what location they were found in (crib, bed, swing, in parent’s arms) and focusing on safe sleep directs attention from the fact that something is medically wrong with our babies that we can’t stop. That more funding is needed for SIDS research. That you can do everything right as I did, and your baby can still die. That is why SIDS is so scary. My daughter died in her crib. No bumpers or blankets. Now cribs give me PTSD.. I am considering this product if I ever have another child:

    • Thanks for your comment Cynthia! I do understand your thoughts on the medical factors related to SIDS. Much is still not understood. Underlying medical conditions probably do play a significant role in SIDS and SUIDS. Further research is definitely needed! In the meantime, I do think that it is important to go with the information that we do have. Safe sleep environments are still important. And, yes, while many cases of SIDS and SUIDS may not be prevented even if a mother does everything right (as in your case) some cases potentially could with safe sleep environments and other safe steps (for example eliminating infants tobacco exposure). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights as a mom who personally experienced the tragedy of SIDS. Again, my heart is broken for any parent who loses a child. I will check out the product you listed and comment on that later:)

  2. Hi,
    I lost my son, Leo, to SUIDS on April 11, 2013. The “U” in our case was due to bed sharing. Had he died in the “perfect sleep scenario” it would have been SIDS.

    I wanted to thank you for being so gentle with your approach. A SIDS/SUIDS death comes with so much guilt and there are plenty of articles out there that pretend to know the cause and solution to prevent these horrific and traumatizing deaths. I would do anything to have my boy back, but blaming myself doesn’t bring that dream any closer to reality.

    Education is so important. All of the studies in the world showing the benefits of bed sharing, all of the back to sleep campaigns, all of the people who have had “near SIDS” episodes but saved their babies…all of that, none of that, outweighs a living child! My son was very closely bonded to me, we shared a bed, I breast fed, I sang, tickled, kissed, and protected him. According to all the research, he would have been very well rounded…but he isn’t, because he died…in my bed…where I thought he was safest, where my other babies were brought up and didn’t die, where I read would be best, where I placed the most precious piece of my heart and thought SIDS only happened to other people.

    You couldn’t be more right when you say that the benefits of bed sharing DO NOT outweigh your baby’s well being. I would die a thousand times to bring Leo back. I would spend all of my nights sleeping on the floor next to his crib (with no bumpers, toys, loose covers, or pillows!) if it meant saving him!

    I know in my heart that it wasn’t bed sharing that killed him. I truly believe that he had a vulnerability (research suggests a brain stem abnormality) which, coupled with bed sharing, likely caused him to succumb to the vulnerability. None of this changes the fact that, maybe we don’t know the cause of SIDS/SUIDS, but we do know what safe sleep is, and we need to share that knowledge, in case it does contribute to SIDS/SUIDS deaths.

    Thank you for being real and for breaking people’s hearts a little now so that they don’t have to endure the earth-shattering heartbreak of burying their baby, like I did.


    • Oh I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for your honest sharing. There is still so much that we need to learn about sleep related deaths. But, in the meantime, taking the info that we do have and using it wisely is so important!!! Thank you for challenging other families to do the same. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine!

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