The American Academy of Pediatrics have just released a new report telling us that if babies sleep in the the same room (not the same bed) as their parents, their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is lowered by a whopping 50 per cent.
Six months plus
The report recommends that babies sleep in a ‘SIDS safe’ cot or bassinet in the same room as mum and/or dad, and continue to do so for the first six months of life, but ideally until they are 12 months old.
Co-author of the report, Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter told CNN this cautious approach leads to better outcomes.
“Babies should share that sleep environment for up to one year, because there is a slight risk of SIDS that persists,” said Winter.
Why is same-room sleeping helpful?
While research into the causes of SIDS is ongoing, Dr Winter says that a variety of factors may make this same-room sleeping better for babies.
“A baby that is within reach of their mother may have more comfort, or physical stimulation from being in an environment with another person,” Dr Winter says.
She also noted that it’s easier for new mums to breastfeed frequently when babies are nearby. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS by 70 per cent.
US based pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown says that parental sixth sense may also come into play when it comes to this same-room sleeping and SIDS prevention.
“People don’t know quite why the risk is lowered,” she said. “I might chalk it up to a parent’s sixth sense when a baby is nearby and making erratic noises or not that helps save these babies.”
The report also takes the opportunity to remind parents and carers of the optimal ‘safe sleeping’ conditions for babies. Infants should be placed on a firm sleeping surface with a tight fitting sheet and bedding carefully considered.
“There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating,” Dr Winter says.
Couches, cushions and cushioned chairs should never be used as a baby’s bed. They increase the risk of SIDS and interfere with baby’s normal respiratory regulation.
How to sleep your baby safely
1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on their tummy or their side.
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered.
3. Keep baby smoke-free before birth and after.
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day.
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months.
6. Breastfeed your baby, if possible.
* Guidelines via Red Nose/SIDS and Kids