Cradles and cribs are meant to be safe havens for a baby, but around 2,000 of them die each year in the beds due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There is also the sobering statistics of about 4,000 baby deaths due to SUIDs or Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths. As babies spend most of their early months in bed, it stands to reason that keeping their sleep environment safe is first and foremost the best prevention parents and caregivers should observe. Here’s how.
1. Babies should have their separate sleeping beds. Parents and the newborn can sleep in the same room, but should not share the same bed to prevent unfortunate accidents like suffocation and strangulation. It is not unheard of for babies to die of either one after an inebriated parent falls asleep on the bed shared with the baby. Even with utmost caution, babies sharing the same sleeping space with adults increase their risk of dying due to SIDS or SUIDs.
2. Babies should only sleep in beds that meet safety criteria. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have established safety standards and regularly update the public on what baby products and crib or cradle add-ons may do more harm than good. The most basic is for the baby to sleep on firm mattress so this standard rules out other sleeping areas like sofas, rugs, beanbags and waterbeds.
3. Baby bedding should be properly fitted. Loose fabric from blankets or comforters can get in the way of breathing when the baby moves and comes in close contact with these sheets. Bedding made of thick fabrics should also be avoided to prevent accidental suffocation. When using crib bumpers, make sure they are securely tied to the crib. You can also opt to purchase bumperless cribs which, according to FDA, end up better for babies.
4. Babies need to sleep on their backs. This one is contested territory as most parents swear by putting their babies to sleep on their stomachs, claiming that they sleep better and longer, thus allowing parents to get the much-needed rest as well. But FDA has noted a 60% reduction in the occurrence of SIDS after they started the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign in 1994.
5. Babies should be alone in their cradles or cribs. It’s very tempting to put the baby’s favorite toy alongside him or her while asleep, but these comforts can be dangerous. Even the so-called sleep positioners which keep babies in desired position have been given a red flag by FDA as a possible cause for SUIDs. In fact, there have been a dozen cases of SIDS directly associated with such sleep device, so keep the babies’ sleeping environment spartan to reduce this incidence.