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UAB Joins Effort to Promote Safer Sleep for Babies

Safer Sleep for Babies

This article was written by Freda Centor, an advanced nursing coordinator for UAB Women and Infants Services.

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued its first position paper on safe infant sleep. Its recommendation to put babies to sleep on their backs helped reduce the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rate by 50%, saving many babies’ lives.

Fast-forward to 2019. We now know even more ways to help prevent babies from dying in their sleep, yet the SIDS and SUID (sudden unexplained infant death) statistics haven’t improved equally in all populations and locations. For example, black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies, and the infant death rate in Alabama is among the highest in the country.

UAB Women and Infants Services recently was selected as one of only 15 hospitals in the country to take part in a national quality improvement project through the National Institute of Child Health and Quality. It involves educating all parents and caregivers about safe infant sleep, using a consistent and simple message that includes these main points to help keep babies safe:

  • Put babies on their back to sleep, even for naps. Sleeping on their side is dangerous. Be religious in telling everyone who cares for your baby about “back to sleep”. Don’t forget your daycare center, and don’t assume its staff already know. The generation that had babies before 1992 put them on their stomach, and they may be most resistant to this back-to-sleep message.
  • Your baby should sleep alone in a crib, bassinet, or play yard, separate from other people and other babies.
  • The sleep space should include a firm, well-fitting mattress and a well-fitting sheet, and your baby should be in a wearable blanket. Nothing else should be in the baby’s sleep space. Loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and other soft things are unsafe in the baby’s bed. Dress the baby in a one-piece blanket sleeper instead of a blanket. This keeps the baby’s face uncovered for easy breathing.
  • Sleeping with your baby in a bed or chair greatly increases the risk of infant death. The AAP recommends room sharing – not bed sharing – for the first 6 months. The bassinet or play yard should be in the parents’ room, and the baby should not be in the parents’ bed. This makes it easier for mom to breastfeed, but babies should always go back in their own sleep area after the feeding.
  • Do not let anyone smoke around your baby.
  • Do not overheat your baby with either too many layers of clothes or a room that’s too hot. The proper room temperature for sleeping is 68-70 degrees.
  • After breastfeeding is established, usually around 3 weeks, give your baby a pacifier to reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Watch out for products that claim to help reduce the risk of SIDS or that offer alternate places for babies to sleep. Many such products have contributed to infant deaths and have been recalled.
  • To reduce the chance of flat spots on your baby’s head, provide “tummy time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching.

We at UAB Women and Infants Services are so excited to partner with you to keep your baby safe! Please help us spread the message of safe infant sleep and make Alabama a much safer place for babies.

Click here to learn more about UAB Women and Infants Services.