As I was standing in Pottery Barn Kids innocently looking at crib sheets, I overheard the lady behind me who was purchasing a gift ask the sales clerk, “Are you really supposed to use bumper pads? I thought that they weren’t safe.” To my dismay, the sales associated responded, “Oh, I think it is really up to you. They should be safe; otherwise, we wouldn’t sell them. And, they keep babies from getting their legs and arms stuck in the cribs.” The family physician and public health specialist in me was fuming! I wanted to correct her. I wanted to set the record straight. I wanted to grab the bumper pad from her hands and say, “Don’t buy it!” I debated with myself for just a little bit too long. I didn’t want to sound rude or all-knowing, but I wanted her to know that bumpers can contribute to Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID). By the time I had built up the courage to add my two cents, the purchase had been made, and the innocent gift giver was out the door.
Every décor savvy mom longs for a beautiful bumper to complete her infant’s crib. Well, keep on longing! I have created a beautiful nursery for our daughter…bumper free. It sounds cliché, but “SAFTEY FIRST” should be every mom’s motto. Let’s review the updated recommendations to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths. If you are already following them, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, then now is the time to start.
Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths are deaths that occur suddenly, and unexpectedly in infants under one year of age. These deaths do not have an immediately obvious cause. But, after investigation, most of them fall into one of three main categories: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental strangulation and suffocation in bed, and unknown cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4,000 infants die each year in the United States from SUID, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the third leading cause of all deaths for infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its recommendations on safe sleep environments for infants in an effort to reduce SIDS and sleep related deaths. Here is a breakdown of the key recommendations, but be sure to look at the hyperlinks in this article for more detailed information.
- Infants should be placed on their BACK every time they sleep
- Use a firm sleep surface-a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet
- Keep your infant in your room, but not in your bed (this can reduced SIDS risk by 50%!!!)
- Keep soft bedding and loose objects out of the crib (no stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, or BUMPER PADS)-there is no evidence to say that bumper pads prevent injury, they do, however, raise the risk for suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment according to the AAP. Sleep sacks are great to use instead of blankets. They keep the baby warm without the risk of suffocation.
- Avoid infant smoke exposure during pregnancy and after the infant is born.
- Breastfeed if possible for at least the first 6 months
- Offer a pacifier at naps and bedtime. Even if it falls out, its use has been linked with SIDS prevention.
- Avoid Overheating-Don’t over-bundle your infant for sleep
- Immunize your infant
- Avoid devices sold to “prevent” SIDS, including positioners. These are not considered safe.
- Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors to prevent SIDS. These have not been found to lower the risk.
- Make sure to incorporate supervised awake tummy time for your infant. This helps strengthen neck muscles.
Although this may seem like a long list, most of you are already complying with many of these recommendations. They aren’t always convenient, or baby décor conscious, but what could be more important than your infant’s safety? Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths are not all that “common”. But, if SUID only stole one infant’s life each year instead of 4,000, and that life was your child’s….? Don’t tempt fate. Protect your child. Reduce their risk of SUID.
From The Mom in Me, MD