AAP Updated Safe Sleep Recommendations – A Must Read!


safe sleep recommendations

In an effort to reduce the risk of sleep–related infant deaths, The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their safe sleep recommendations for the first time since 2011. Approximately 3,500 infants under the age of 1 die of SIDS or accidental suffocation or strangulation every year in the US, and the number has stagnated in recent years. Although the cause of SIDS in unknown, research suggests that babies between 1 and 4 months of age, premature babies and babies with low birth weight are most vulnerable. That risk can be minimized for all babies under 1 year of age by following the latest recommendations. The goal of the updated policy is to help parents make the best choices for their family and spare them the heartbreak of such a tragic loss.

Many of the updated AAP recommendations reaffirm previous policies that are familiar to most parents, like placing babies on their backs to sleep and using a firm sleep surface without soft or loose bedding or toys. What’s notable, however, are new, updated recommendations on room sharing (which is now recommended for at least the first six months and ideally up to one year) and recognition that many parents, either intentionally or unintentionally, do co-sleep with their babiesThe AAP addresses this reality by suggesting that it is less hazardous to fall asleep with your baby in an adult bed than on the couch or a chair, and that if you do fall asleep with your baby it’s important to place them back in their crib or bassinet once you wake up.

Here is a list of all 19 recommendations. You can go the AAP website to read the full report. Some recommendations may be easier to follow than others, but as always, informed choice is key!

1. Place babies on their back to sleep for every sleep until they are 1 year old. This position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration.
2. Use a firm sleep surface.
3. Breastfeeding is recommended.
4. Babies should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for babies, for at least for the first six months and ideally up to one year.
5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.
6. Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. (You do not need to re-plug it if it falls out).
7. Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth.
8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.
9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.
10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.
11. Infants should be immunized according to the recommended schedule.
12. Avoid using commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations, such as wedges and positioners.
13. Don’t use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce SIDS risk.
14. Supervised tummy time while the infant is awake can help development and minimize positional plagiocephaly.
15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling to reduce the risk of SIDS.
16. Health care professionals and staff in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units as well as child care providers should endorse and model recommendations to reduce SIDS risk.
17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in messaging and advertising.
18. Continue the Safe to Sleep campaign, focusing on ways to further reduce sleep-related deaths.
19. Research and surveillance should continue on all risk factors.
It’s important to know that following these recommendations doesn’t preclude teaching your baby independent sleep skills when they’re developmentally ready to learn.

Sweet Dreams!

Alison Bevan – Sleepytime Coach

Pediatric Sleep Consultant – The Center For Advanced Pediatrics


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