Updated safe sleep guidelines for babies published this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics mostly reaffirm recommendations from 2016 on how to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. A Maryland doctor wants to highlight some of the new recommendations.
“One of the additions to the guidelines is that families should avoid the use of SIDS monitors or home apnea monitors that aren’t prescribed by a physician,” said Dr. Adrienne Collier, the chief of pediatrics for D.C. and suburban Maryland for the Permanente Medical Group in Largo.
Those monitors, marketed toward families, track breathing and heart rate and are not evidence-based.
“These devices show no evidence that they reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant deaths. So we do not recommend the use of commercial devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS,” Collier said.
There’s new emphasis on making sure babies sleep on a level surface.
“Some families may use a car seat or stroller, infant swing or infant carrier for their baby to go to sleep; some babies may fall asleep easier in those positions. But those positions are not safe for infant sleep,” Collier said.
“As pediatricians, we recommend that if your baby does fall asleep in the car seat or the swing or the stroller, that you remove them from that device, and then put them in their sleeping area, whether it’s a crib or bassinet, a pack-and-play or a bedside co-sleeper,” Collier said.
Problems could also arise when caregivers feed or try coaxing a child to sleep while holding the baby on a couch or in an easy chair.
“We know that infants are on their own schedule, and the parent or caregiver may be fatigued or sleepy themselves. So, the parent or caregiver is feeding the baby, who falls asleep, but the caregiver also falls asleep. So that increases the risk,” she said. “When the caregiver falls asleep, the baby may move down out of the arms into a crack or crevice in the couch or the arm chair. And that increases risk of suffocation.”
Collier said sleeping with an infant on the couch or in an arm chair or recliner can increase the risk of sleep-related infant death up to 67 times.
“The baby should be in a bassinet, a crib, a play yard, or a bedside co-sleeper with a firm surface without any pillows, without any bumpers or extra blankets or stuffed animals, because those can also increase the risk of sudden infant death,” Collier said.
You can find the entire policy statement on best safe practices for baby sleep on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.