In nearly every retail store, display cribs and bassinets are decorated with blankets, pillows and bumper pads. While those soft materials make for an attractive nursery, for a baby, they can make for a dangerous place to sleep.
The most recent information from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 600 babies die each year from sleep-related suffocation – that’s an average of two children every day.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital recognizes the importance of teaching parents and caregivers about safe sleep. Gail Bagwell, an advanced practice nurse and perinatal outreach coordinator for Neonatal Services at Nationwide Children’s, leads the effort to implement American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on safe sleep throughout the hospital. Partnering with the Franklin County Infant Safe Sleep Task Force, Bagwell’s team works with hospital staff to follow the suggested practices of safe sleep, such as using a firm mattress with a fitted sheet, using sleep sacks instead of blankets to keep babies warm and removing all other items from cribs.
“Blankets, bumper pads and toys can cover a baby’s airway and block her ability to breathe,” Bagwell said. “By following the ABCs of safe sleep – Alone, on the Back, in a Crib – we can show parents directly what type of environment is safest for their babies’ sleep."
Parents and child caregivers are encouraged to remember those ABCs when it comes to a safe sleep environment for their babies. If parents want to keep their babies close while sleeping, use a separate crib, bassinet or portable play yard placed nearby. Many parents want to snuggle with their babies on a couch or bed, but these are not safe places for babies to sleep.
“Babies can become wedged between cushions, the parent(s) and the couch and can suffocate,” said Bagwell. “No matter where you are when your baby falls asleep, always move him to a firm surface with no soft bedding or toys.
The ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on the Back, in a Crib.
- To keep your baby close when you’re sleeping, share the room but not your bed.
- Keep pillows, blankets, bumper pads, stuffed animals, toys and other soft bedding materials out of your baby’s sleep area.
On the Back:
- Place your baby on his back every time he sleeps. Sleeping on his back does not increase your baby’s chances of choking.
- Sleep-positioning products such as wedges that claim to keep your baby safe are dangerous and not recommended.
In a Crib:
- Use a firm sleep surface covered by a tightly-fitting sheet, such as in a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable play yard, every time your baby sleeps. Couches, chairs and beds are too soft, can trap your baby between cushions and are dangerous places for infants to sleep.
- If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller or carrier, move your baby to her crib or bassinet to sleep.
- Make sure the crib, bassinet or portable play yard is in good condition, meets current safety standards and has not been recalled. Check www.recalls.gov to be sure that your baby products have not been recalled.