Researchers analyzing survey data from more than 34,000 mothers across 27 states found that almost a quarter of parents still don't follow the back-to-sleep rule. The moms surveyed fared even worse when it came to the three other safe infant sleep guidelines, the researchers reported.
Here's a summary of the four safe sleeping practices covered in the study:
- Put your baby to sleep on her back. This practice greatly reduces your baby's risk of dying in his sleep. Babies that sleep on their tummies are more likely to overheat and have difficulty breathing.
- Place your baby on a firm, safe sleeping surface: Choose a crib, bassinet, or play yard that meets current safety standards. Make sure it's furnished with a firm, tight-fitting mattress and fitted sheet. Don't use soft mattresses, and never put your baby to sleep on a couch or armchair – soft surfaces increase the risk of suffocation.
- Avoid soft objects and bedding: Keep your baby's sleep area free of blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and any item other than the mattress and fitted sheet. Soft items, loose bedding, and general clutter increases your baby's risk of suffocation and injury.
- Share a room, not a bed: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your baby sleep in the same room as you until she's at least 6 months old and preferably until she turns 1. This can reduce sudden death risk by as much as half. But don't share a bed with your baby, which can be dangerous.
Less than half of moms surveyed said they complied with recommendations to put babies to sleep on a firm surface that's free of soft objects. And only 57 percent followed AAP advice on room sharing.
Part of the problem may be that providers aren't doing enough to educate parents about safe sleep practices. Less than half of moms said they received provider advice about sharing a room, but not a bed, with their babies, for example.
These guidelines really can make a life or death difference, so it's important to take them seriously. About 3,500 babies each year die from sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are deaths that occur suddenly before the age of 1 without an obvious explanation.
In addition to the four guidelines, health experts recommend several other do's and don'ts when it comes to keeping your baby safe while he sleeps.
Even if your baby hasn't arrived yet, you can start taking steps to keep his sleeping area safe once he's born. Follow these BabyCenter-approved tips for childproofing your nursery.
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