The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its first set of recommendations since 2011 about how best to fight sudden infant death syndrome — and the guidelines might change how you put your baby to bed every night.
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The group’s new policy, which will be published in the journal Pediatrics in November, calls for infants to sleep in the same room as their parents, but on a separate surface, like a crib or bassinet, never in the same bed and never on a couch, armchair, or other soft surface. The pediatricians recommend this room-sharing goes on for six months, or ideally a full year, and say sharing a room can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. Approximately 3,500 infants die every year in the U.S. from sleep-related deaths, including SIDS, accidental suffocation, and strangulation in bed.
“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” lead author Dr. Rachel Moon said in a statement. “Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous.”
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When setting up a safe sleep environment, the authors say you should place your baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet. The crib should be bare without soft bedding like bumpers, pillows, and soft toys. And this should come as a given, but they also recommend avoiding exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
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Other recommendations include skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth for at least an hour, regardless of whether the baby is breast-fed or bottle-fed. But the doctors also recommend breastfeeding as a protection against SIDS; breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 70 percent, according to CNN. They also recommend offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, emphasizing supervised, awake tummy time, and giving your infant all his or her recommended vaccinations.
From: Cosmopolitan US