Since launching our Operation Safe Babies program last year, we’ve provided safe, portable cribs to more than 325 parents across Northern Virginia. We’ve also answered hundreds of their questions about how to make sleep safe for their babies.
October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month, the perfect time to share some of the most common questions we receive and some of the best answers we’ve found in our work:
Q: Why should I put my baby on her back to sleep?
A: (From the NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign) Research shows that the back sleep position is the safest for babies. The back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS. Research also shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. The back sleep position makes it easier for babies to look around the room and to move their arms and legs.
Remember: Babies sleep safest on their backs, and every sleep time counts!
Q: I’ve heard co-sleeping can be good for my fussy baby. Is it safe?
A: (From Cribs for Kids) The act of bringing an infant into a sleep environment with adults, other children, or pets puts the baby in danger of suffocating, either by being smothered in bedding; by positional asphyxia, which occurs when a baby’s position prevents them person from breathing adequately; or by being accidentally rolled over by a sleeping companion (overlay).
EXTRA TOOL: An opinion piece in the LA Times this September was met with powerful responses from the medical community, including this letter from the President of the AAP reposted online by Cribs for Kids:
To the editor: The risks of sharing your bed with your infant are not “imaginary,” contrary to the opinion expressed by Robert LeVine and Sarah LeVine.
An adult bed poses very real risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unintentional suffocation, strangulation or entrapment to an infant. Sleep-related infant deaths claim more babies between 1 month and 1 year of age than any other cause.
Multiple studies bear this out. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against bed-sharing.
The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a separate crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet and nothing else, preferably in the parents’ bedroom for up to a year.
Benard Dreyer, MD, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
The writer is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Q: How can I make sure other caregivers are careful when putting my baby to sleep?
A: SCAN developed a “Pledge Card” in English and Spanish. We encourage parents to make copies for babysitters, family members and other caregivers to sign and hang up as a reminder for the children in their care.
EXTRA TOOL: Download SCAN’s white paper for professionals: Operation Safe Babies | Reducing Child Fatalities in Northern Virginia
Q: What does a “safe sleep” environment look like?
A: The National Institutes of Health has a great online visual tool that allows parents to see and interact with pictures of a bedroom as they learn how to create a safe sleep environment in their own home.
What questions have parents asked you about safe sleep? We’d love to help you answer more questions!