The American Academy of Pediatrics has been leading safe sleep initiatives since the 1990s. As the evidence has grown and new baby products hit the market, the AAP Task Force on SIDS has updated its guidance to reflect what is known about how to keep sleeping babies safe and well.
Keeping up with the latest guidance can be difficult. That is why HealthyChildren.org has a variety of accessible articles, written by pediatricians, for families to stay up to date on current safe sleep recommendations.
In How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained, Rachel Y. Moon, MD, FAAP breaks down the AAP guidelines to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. A few of the recommendations that she describes for nighttime and naps include:
- Putting your baby on their back for every sleep.
- Putting your baby on a firm, flat, noninclined surface.
- Never sleeping with your baby.
- Avoiding any soft objects or loose bedding in your baby’s sleeping area.
- Keeping your baby from getting overheated.
A common question is whether parents should swaddle their babies. The AAP recommends that parents swaddle their baby if they would like to, following the proper guidance. Dr. Moon and Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP discuss this guidance in their article, Swaddling: Is it Safe for Your Baby? An important takeaway from this article is that parents should continue to follow the recommendations above, like back to sleep and a firm sleep surface, if they choose to swaddle. Infants should no longer be swaddled once they are able to roll themselves over.
Another common question from parents involves sleeping positions for babies with reflux. Again, parents should continue to place their babies on their back even if they have reflux. In the article What is the Safest Sleep Solution for my Baby with Reflux, Anthony Porto, MD, MPH, FAAP dispels the myth that babies may vomit and choke while sleeping on their back. He also explains that parents should avoid purchasing gadgets marketed for treating reflux, like wedges and sleep positioners. Instead, parents are advised to wait it out, as most babies will outgrow this in 4 to 6 months.
In addition to safe sleep recommendations, there are products on the market that the AAP advises parents to avoid. As mentioned, babies should always be put on a firm, flat surface. For this reason, parents should refrain from purchasing inclined sleepers (sometimes called baby nests, docks, pods, loungers, rockers or nappers). The incline of these products can position babies in a chin-to-chest position, which can restrict their airways. They might also roll out of them, causing the baby to become trapped underneath. For more information on products to avoid and to learn about new federal safety standards, see the article Inclined Sleepers, Crib Bumpers & Other Baby Registry Items to Avoid by Dina DiMaggio, MD, FAAP.
Parents should also be cautious about using baby boxes. Although they are created to match the AAP safety guidelines, as Dr. Moon describes in an article about the topic, they are not required to meet federal safety standards nor is there enough research to suggest that they keep babies safe. To continue reading about baby boxes as well as wahakuras, read I’ve Seen Offers for Free “Baby Boxes” for Newborns to Sleep in. Are These OK to Use?
For more articles about safe sleep and other sleep-related topics, please visit the sleep page on HealthyChildren.org.
American Academy of Pediatrics