Updates To Safe Sleep Environment For Baby

.jpg photo of Infant sleeping safely
Sudden Infant Death Sydrome (SIDS) is a parent’s worst fear.

New recommendations for baby sleeping safety

HOUSTON, TX  –  Sudden Infant Death Sydrome (SIDS) is a parent’s worst fear.

In 2015, the CDC said there were 1,600 infants who died of SIDS in the United States.

Over the past 20 years practices have been learned to lower the number of sudden infant deaths.

However, there are also some new guidelines, in part because of new devices, like high-tech baby monitors hitting the market.

So the American Academy of Pediatrics made some updates to their safe sleep environment recommendations.

Harmony Jurkash had her second child, Jackson, just three months ago, and she believes in safe sleep practices.

“We are definitely a proponent of crib sleeping, on the back,” says Jurkash.
She keeps the crib empty.  No toys, no blankets, no bumpers, and that’s exactly how baby Jackson should sleep, says Dr. Rita Muthappa, the NICU Medical Director at Memorial Hermann Memorial City and Katy.

“The baby should sleep alone on a firm mattress,” says Dr. Muthappa.

Jurkash also uses a baby monitor to check on her son.

“It allows a safety net as far as always keeping an eye on the baby, but yet you can keep a distance from you and the baby so they can rest and you can relax,” explains Jurkash.

But these days, there are also high-tech monitors that actually monitor a baby’s vital signs, something that Dr. Muthappa says the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend.

“We know these baby monitors are not regulated, the safety has not been studied, and they do more harm than good for the baby and parents,” explains Dr. Muthappa.

That’s because false alarms on the devices often alarm parents. Now, a product with studies and statistics behind it is the Baby Box.

“I found it really interesting.  I’m going to put my baby in a box.  I don’t know how it’s going to sound!” says Jurkash.

The Baby Box was created in Finland in the 1930s, and each new mom goes home with one.  Finland has the lowest infant mortality rate.

“They reduce infant mortality tremendously.  They are very common in Europe and countries.  They are less expensive and as safe as using a bassinet or crib,” says Dr. Muthappa.

The Baby Box is now available here in the US.

Finally, another new guideline Dr. Muthappa discusses with new parents is how long a baby should sleep in the parents’ room.

“We talk about keeping the baby in the room for up to six months to a year,” says Dr. Muthappa.

And that’s just a little too long for Jurkash.

“In our experience, it’s worked for us to keep them in their crib in a separate room.  It makes complete sense that neither the parents nor the baby will get a restful night’s sleep if they’re in the same room,” says Jurkash.

Swaddling does not prevent SIDS, and Dr. Muthappa says tight swaddling is not recommended because infants need to be able to move their hips.  Also, pacifiers are now recommended as a part of safe sleeping.