Hello there! This week’s topic on safe sleep is the other half of the “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play” campaign we talked about last week on our blog.
So, reason for choosing these topics as our first few topics is that safe sleep is so so so important for an infant’s wellbeing and so is tummy time. And as first time parents, we know you may need all the help and support that you can get and new parents commonly struggle with these very relatable topics. Again, we try to be as evidence based as possible, so you may find guidelines from AAP here and NIH and other reliable sources as you read on.
Now, as mentioned previously, the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) coined the “Back to sleep” campaign initially to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by placing infants on their back to sleep. SIDS is defined as the sudden, unexpected, unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby; usually in infants less than 1 year old, and especially those less than 6 months old.
In 2012, the campaign was expanded and renamed “Safe to Sleep” to address not only SIDS but other sleep-related infant deaths, eg: suffocation. This “Safe to Sleep” focuses not only on putting babies on their back to sleep for EVERY sleep (including naps) but also recommends:
1) Using a firm, flat sleep surface for baby, ie:
- NO hammock or better known as “buaian” for Malaysians. Using the “buaian” has so many other cons such as risk of brain bleed if it’s the oscillating kind
- NO reclining or inclining surfaces (Ideally, a level surface)
- NO soft surfaces eg: sofas, couch, thick blanket due to risk of suffocation and strangulation
- NO car seats or strollers to sleep at home, unless traveling in a car; to avoid baby in slumped position with flexed neck which could block airway and breathing
2) Share the room BUT NOT the bed
- You can and should sleep with baby in the same room at least for the first 6 months (I know some parents believe in letting baby sleep alone in room for sleep training of some sort) BUT baby has to sleep in his or her own crib/cot to avoid the adult accidentally rolling over baby
- If you fall asleep breastfeeding baby on your bed (which happens sometimes inevitably), quickly place baby back in cot once you’re awake
3) Keep baby’s sleep area clear of objects
- Ideally, your baby’s cot should not have stuffed toys, pillows, quilts, blankets over baby as these may increase risk of suffocation and strangulation especially for infants who are beginning to roll over but have not quite mastered rolling back yet
- Make sure the bedsheets are fitted and not loose for the same reason as above
4) Smoke and vape free environment
- Studies have shown secondhand smoke increases risk of SIDS and obviously other health problems, and no, it doesn’t make a difference if the parent smokes outside and then comes home because the vapor and smoke is still on the clothes when you carry your baby
5) Avoid products that claims to prevent SIDS
- Because NO product can prevent SID and many of these products (eg: wedges, positioners) do not meet sleep safety guidelines and certification
6) Avoid swaddling babies above 3 -4 months old
- Because they most likely have learned to roll over on to their sides or tummy on their own but may not be able to roll back yet hence increased risk of suffocation (I personally was very careful with this and was super paranoid especially with my firstborn, waking up so often to check that he has not rolled over in his sleep)
- Swaddled babies also have restricted movement hence greater risk of SIDS, so especially important to put them on their back to sleep
These are some of the pointers on safe sleep which I found useful. If you’re interested to read more, you can head on over to the NIH website on Safe to Sleep. Just to take note, preterm babies and infants with special needs will need extra precaution and attention even in sleep as their risk of SIDS is higher. As always, I hope you find this post helpful and feel free to post any comments or questions below.
Next week’s topic will be on breastfeeding. Stay tuned!