Health Department Offers Tips on Creating a Safe Sleep Environment for Babies

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations that all babies should be placed on their backs to sleep. Since that time, deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have declined dramatically. However, deaths from other sleep-related causes such as suffocation and entrapment have increased.

“It’s important to look at the over-all sleep environments for babies,” warns Dr. Dennis Norfleet, director of public health for Oswego County. “The reduction in the number of cases of SIDS is great; however, we can prevent additional tragic deaths during that first year of life by creating a safe sleep environment for babies.”

New AAP guidelines for infant sleep safety and SIDS risk reduction recommend the following for all healthy babies up to 1 year of age:

• Place baby on his/her back for every sleep

• Place your baby to sleep on firm sleep surfaces

• Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep

• Keep soft objects out of and away from the crib, including loose bedding and any object that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation

• Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep, but not in the same bed

• Breastfeed as much as you can and for as long as you can

• Schedule and go to all well-child visits

• Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke

• Do not let your baby get too hot

• Offer a pacifier at naptime and bedtime

• Infants should receive all the recommended vaccinations

• Supervised, awake “tummy time” is recommended daily to facilitate development

Following these guidelines can reduce the risk of all sleep-related deaths, including SIDS.

“It’s important that all those providing care to newborns adopt these guidelines right from birth,” reminded Dr. Norfleet. “Positioning baby on his or her back in a safe, uncluttered sleep environment can help reach the goal of eliminating preventable sleep-related infant death.”

Parents, grandparents, child-care providers, or others wanting more information on reducing the risk of sleep-related infant deaths can contact the health department at 349-3547 or visit