Babies should sleep in their parents’ room for their first six months to a year, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), doctors have advised.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (APA) has stated babies should sleep separately in their own crib or bassinet (not in their parents’ bed). They also reiterated 2011 guidance that infants should sleep on their backs in a place free of toys or blankets.
“We know 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,” said Rachel Moon, lead author of the report.
“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.”
The new policy statement, ‘SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment’, was presented on Monday 24 October 2016 at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.
The statement referenced the fact that approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths. In the UK, just under 300 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year, the NHS states.
The policy also stated that breastfeeding is recommended, but mums should move the baby to a separate sleeping space afterwards.
“If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” said co-author Lori Feldman-Winter, a member of the Task Force on SIDS, according to Yahoo.
“If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.”
Commenting on the statement, Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust, an organisation promoting safer baby sleep, told The Huffington Post UK: “We are pleased to see that the American Academy of Paediatrics has updated its advice on safer sleep.
“The US has disproportionately higher rates of SIDS than the UK and there is an urgent need to take action to reduce the high number of unexplained infant deaths.
“In this country, The Lullaby Trust has long advised that parents share a room with their newborn baby for the first six months. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot or Moses basket, in the same room as you, on a flat, firm mattress.
“All our health professionals are encouraged to follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on co-sleeping and have open discussions with parents about the risks of co-sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“All parents should be made aware of this advice as a matter of course, in particular the dangers of co-sleeping on a sofa and where a parent is a smoker and co-sleeps on any surface.”