Promoting Safer Sleep

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While the incidence of SIDS has decreased since the launch of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1992, the number of infant deaths resulting from accidental suffocation, asphyxia, and entrapment has increased in recent years1. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics expanded its recommendations to promote a safer sleep environment for infants.

However, a recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia indicated that a significant number of parents continue to engage in high-risk sleeping behaviors.2 Of the 1,030 mothers surveyed, almost 20 percent reported sharing a bed with their infant and 10 percent reported routinely putting their infant to sleep on their stomach.

Physicians and hospital staff should set a clear example of safe sleep practices in the inpatient setting. Parents and caregivers are more likely to model the actions demonstrated by their healthcare providers rather than follow verbal instructions. Encourage caregivers to follow the ABC’s of safe sleep: Alone, Back, Crib.

  • The safest place for an infant to sleep is in the same room as their caregiver but not in the same bed.
  • Infants should be placed on their backs to sleep and their tummies to play.
  • Use a crib or bassinet that meets current safety standards
  • Provide a firm sleep surface.
  • Keep loose bedding, bumpers, and toys out of the crib.
  • Do not let an infant overheat.

In addition to promoting safe sleeping environments, healthcare providers must also convey to parents the importance of practicing Tummy Time while their infant is awake to support motor development3 and prevent positional plagiocephaly and torticollis.

[1] Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. 2011; 128(5): 1030-39.
[2] Colson E, et al. Reports of infant sleep behaviors from a national sample of mothers: the study of attitudes and factors affecting infant care (SAFE). Platform session presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting; 2014 May 3-6; Vancouver, British Columbia.
[3]  Pin T, Eldridge B, and Galea MP. A review of the effects of sleep position, play position and equipment use on motor development of infants. Development Medicine and Child Neurology. 2007; 49: 858-67.