Every few years a new study comes out about how we’ve been doing something totally wrong when it comes to being parents to our little ones, and this new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics has us a little bit freaked out about how we’ve been allowing babies to sleep. The study (which examined the volunteered video recordings of 160 babies) seeks to improve our ability to prevent SIDS, and it’s *such* an important read.
(And just to be clear, we’re not judging anyone’s parenting style — these recommendations are strictly coming from a well-researched study. If anything, it’s good that we’re all more aware of these reported risks and how to prevent them.)
According to Mayo Clinic pediatrician Dr. Robert Jacobson, “This study points out what many of us fear. Parents are failing to take the necessary steps to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.” Ack.
So what are the new recommendations for preventing SIDS?
1. Keep it simple!
Even when it seems like it would be a rough sleep without the blankets and pillows we know and love, we should really skip ’em. 55% of parents continue to use loose bedding in the infant sleep environment, the study said, which is not recommended. Mayo Clinic‘s Dr Jacobson says, “Babies need to be placed on the back for every nap and every night until the baby is 1 year old. No blankets, no bumpers, no pillows, no stuffy animals, but always on a firm, authentic baby crib mattress!”
2. Listen to the guidelines, even when you don’t want to.
The study found overwhelmingly that the majority of parents placed their infants in sleep environments with established risk factors (some of these factors parents even *knew* were risky for their babies). These risk factors included: side and prone sleeping, soft sleep surfaces, loose bedding, bed-sharing, tobacco use, and not breastfeeding. Even though awareness has largely been raised about these risk factors, many parents choose to ignore them in favor of their own routines.
3. You might think you’re doing a good job by moving your baby in the middle of the night, but it’s probably just making things worse.
“When infants were moved to a different sleep environment in the middle of the night,” the study found, “The new sleep environment often included more unsafe elements.” It might seem like a good idea to spend half the night sleeping with your baby, and then to move them to their own bed so they’re at least alone 50% of the time, but the reality is that co-sleeping isn’t recommended, and neither is bedding, so if you move them from one bad environment to another, you’re not making any progress.
4. At the end of the day, researchers believe we need more education around these issues.
This problem doesn’t come from parents just not caring about whether their babies die of SIDS or not, obviously. But it does appear to come from a belief that they are doing the right thing when they aren’t, or that it’s not really as dangerous as the research makes it look. At the end of the day, why risk it?