The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths in infants.
The new recommendations are infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents – but on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface – to decrease the risks of accidental suffocations and sleep-related deaths.
There are pros and cons to having the child sleep in the same room as the parents. We know that it can be disruptive to both parties, especially if you have a child who always wants to sleep in the parents’ bed. If you can initiate good sleep practices, such as making sure the infant has their own crib or bassinet, that will help.
The main reason for the new recommendation is that there is a very solid correlation between children who are in a bassinet in their parents’ room and decreasing death from SIDS or accidental suffocations.
We know that parents instinctually will be more responsive to the sounds of a child who is in distress much better than any electronic baby monitor or similar device. Relying on these devices can create significant anxiety or disruption for everyone or such complacency that an event is still missed.
Other safe sleep recommendations
The statement also reemphasizes the best sleep environment for infants which is a flat, firm surface with no bedding, pillows, stuffed animals or crib bumper pads.
We used to think you could add those items into baby’s sleep environment at around 4-6 months of age, but the AAP now believes that may still be too soon for many infants.
We know co-bedding does occur and we want families to discuss it with us. If an infant is brought into the bed with adults, the safest way to do it is by using a mattress on the floor, not near a wall (so the baby can’t become entrapped between the wall and the mattress). There should be no bedding, loose sheets, or pillows on the mattress — anything that can get around the baby. Parents are also encouraged to be of a normal, healthy weight, a non-smoker, non-drinker, and not to use medications that can be sedating. They also should not be sleep-deprived, which can prevent a parent from noticing an infant is in distress.