Every year, there are thousands of sleep-related deaths among babies. I remember when my first daughter was born. She was also my first child. I was a young mother, a college graduate, but still without a clue about motherhood. I knew how I wanted it to look[motherhood], but the particulars, I was uncertain. No one teaches us how to become good mothers[or fathers]. So, to prepare myself for all of the nuances, I bought books, and I read….a lot. Remember the public library? I went there, too.
At the time, SIDS[Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] was frequently in the news. We were being told of infants dying in their sleep, and of unknown causes. Parents with infants and young babies were cautioned to check on babies frequently as they slept. We were told to place infants on their back, when we put them down to sleep at night. Naps, too. And so as mothers, most of us did just that. The problem is that ‘most’ was not every mother.
I breastfed, and did so in my bed late at night. My daughter would fall asleep during or shortly after feeding. I would strategically place her on her left side, while feeding, as this is the side that enables babies to practically burp and expel gas themselves.
Most mothers of infants have few hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. I was no different. Sleep becomes a rare and valuable commodity for moms during this time in a child’s development.
Breastfed babies tend to feed more often than bottle or formula -fed babies, and thus they wake up hungry two or three times in the middle of the night. At least, my daughter did. Breastfeeding is so soothing-to mother and baby. No bottles to fill or warm up. Unintentionally, I would fall asleep with my daughter next to me in bed. She had her own decorated bedroom and a crib, but this was convenient. What began as an anomaly, soon became a habit-a carelessly risky habit! It was unsafe, and I was aware of the recommended strategies for infant and child safety.
Fortunately, all three of my babies survived the risky sleep rituals. To my defense[never rely on a defense-still unsafe], as a former deep sleeper, I could awaken from hearing a pin drop or any twitch of a muscle. Uncanny! Here, are some tips that contribute to and constitute ‘safe sleep’. Make them a part of your baby’s sleep practices.
What is Being Done
The Federal Government is:
- Promoting safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. http://bit.ly/2mwoaGV
- Monitoring the use of safe sleep practices.
- Supporting educational campaigns, such as the Safe to Sleep® campaign. http://bit.ly/2AZh9Bn
- Supporting research to better understand sleep-related deaths and strategies to improve safe sleep practices.
State and local health departments are:
- Improving safe sleep practices in child-care and hospital settings by training providers.
- Using the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and other programs that serve mothers and babies to deliver culturally appropriate messaging about safe sleep for babies.
- Monitoring and evaluating safe sleep campaigns and programs.
What Can Be Done
Healthcare providers can:
- Advise caregivers to place babies on their back for every sleep. Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, and other soft objects out of their baby’s sleep area, and room share but not bed share with babies.
- Ask caregivers about how they place their baby to sleep, challenges to following recommendations, and help them find solutions.
- Model safe sleep practices in hospitals.
- Follow the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for safe sleep.
Parents and Caregivers can:
- Place babies on their back for every sleep.
- Room share, but not bed share with babies.
- Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of their baby’s sleep area.
- Learn about safe sleep practices for your baby and talk to your healthcare provider. http://bit.ly/1LVisPW
Be wise! Keep your baby safe. Adhere to safe sleep practices! If you are not a parent or caregiver of an infant, tell one-your neighbor, relative or your friend. Recommend safe sleep practices!