Experts agree that babies should sleep in parents’ bedroom for first year

Experts agree that babies should sleep in parents’ bedroom for first year

According to the AAP, sleeping in the same room (not the same bed) significantly lowers the risk of SIDS

New sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that babies should sleep in their parents’ bedrooms for the first year, but in a separate crib or bassinet.

According to The Huffington Post, this is the first time the AAP has made a recommendation on how babies should sleep in their parents’ room.

“We had new evidence that really allowed us to make some further nuanced recommendations for families,” Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, co-author of the guidelines, told The Huffington Post.

These recommendations highlight the fact that today, more and more parents are choosing to co-sleep, even though the practice remains controversial in medical circles because of the lack of evidence. Though the AAP does not recommend co-sleeping, its new sleep guidelines do acknowledge that more parents are practicing bed-sharing, and so the organization has also set out to give guidelines should parents still choose to co-sleep.

baby sleep safety

Photo: Shutterstock

“I am pleased to see an acknowledgement that despite the clear, elevated, independent risk of bed-sharing with an infant, a high proportion of parents—even the most well-educated ones—end up bed-sharing with their babies, whether they intend to or not,” Toronto-based pediatrician Daniel Flanders told NPR. “This doesn’t make them bad parents; it simply reflects the fact that some medical recommendations are easier to follow than others.”

Here are some important recommendations from the report:

1. Babies should be placed on their backs for sleep

According to the new guidelines, sleeping on the stomach and on the side is not safe. Sleeping on the back, on the other hand, does not increase the risk of choking. Studies have shown that prone and side sleeping increase the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for infants up to 1 year. Once your baby can roll over easily (at over 1 year old), he can be allowed to stay in any position.

2. Your baby’s sleep surface should be firm, with no other bedding or soft objects

The sleep surface needs to be firm so that it won’t conform to the shape of your baby’s head, which increases the risk of suffocation should your baby roll over. Don’t use pillows, quilts, and comforters for the same reason.

3. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is recommended

Unless mothers have problems with milk supply, they should try to breastfeed exclusively or feed with expressed breast milk for 6 months, as breastfed babies are at less risk of SIDS.

4. Babies should sleep in their parents’ room, on a separate surface close to their parents’ bed, for at least 6 months (but ideally for their first year)

Evidence shows that babies sleeping in the parents’ room—separately—decreases the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. This reduces the risk of suffocation and strangulation that could occur if the baby sleeps in his parents’ bed.

baby sleep safety

5. When feeding or comforting babies, parents should use their own beds instead of couches or armchairs

Though the AAP strongly advises against bed-sharing, it does say that if a parent needs to comfort or feed their infant, they should do it in bed in case they do fall asleep. This is because seat cushions or armrests are bigger SIDS risks than a flat bed surface.

When feeding or comforting a child in bed, parents should also put away loose pillows and sheets that might cause suffocation or strangulation if they fall asleep. As soon as the parent wakes up, the baby should be placed back on his separate sleep surface.

To read the AAP’s complete recommendations, click here.

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