New safe-sleep recommendations for infants released

Dr. Ashley Pence, of UPMC Susquehanna, right, interacts with a new mother and her baby. Pence, a pediatrician, offers advice for keeping infants safe as they sleep. PHOTO PROVIDED

New American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines for babies warn against soft bedding for sleeping infants.

Those recommendations outline new warnings about increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, including soft bedding and the dangers of infants sleeping on couches and armchairs.

About 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths annually. Ninety percent of SIDS cases occur before an infant is 6 months old.

The recommenations, updated by the academy, once again call for placing infants on their backs when sleeping rather than on their stomachs.

Dr. Ashley Pence, a pediatrician with UPMC Susquehanna, noted that the academy recommendations are practiced when caring for infants at Williamsport Regional Medical Center’s The Birthplace.

And parents are encouraged to follow those same recommendations.

Pence noted mattresses for infants should be firm.

“The mattress shouldn’t make an indent when the baby is on it,” she said.

Soft mattresses and pillows might cushion a baby but pose hazards for infants because they can sink into them.

The academy guidelines also warn against loose blankets in a baby’s crib, which can become unwrapped, cover an infant’s face and increase the risk of suffocation.

“Swaddling is fine,” Pence said. “But swaddling should discontinue when the baby can roll over.”

Swaddling should occur only when babies are on their backs.

Bed sharing between parent and baby also is a no-no, according to academy recommendations.

And, babies should never sleep on a couch, especially with another person because of the risk of the infant becoming wedged between an adult and cushions.

Pence noted it’s fine for parents to share sleeping rooms with their infants up to age 1 but only while maintaining separate beds.

Other academy safe-sleep recommendations for infants include:

• Not using commercial devices such as wedges and positioners.

• Avoiding overheating and head covering.

• Avoiding smoke exposure, alcohol and illicit drug use.

• Following regular breastfeeding.