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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
I’ll cut to the chase: It’s putting their baby to sleep on their stomach. In a safe-sleep survey our sister publication, American Baby, conducted with Safe Kids Worldwide, nearly a third of moms admitted that despite knowing that babies should only be put to sleep on their back, they haven’t always done it. What’s more, nearly half of those moms had put their baby on their stomach before they turned 3 months old–when the risk for SIDS is highest.
This fact stands out as we join with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Safe to Sleep (formerly Back to Sleep) Campaign. This campaign, reminding parents and caregivers everywhere that the safest way for a baby to sleep is on her back, has been enormously effective. As we reported in a story on safe sleep last year: Within ten years, back-sleeping rates escalated and SIDS deaths dropped by more than half. “It was one of the greatest public-health-education triumphs of the late-20th century,” says neonatologist Michael Goodstein, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “An estimated 30,000 children are alive today because of Back to Sleep.”
Still, there’s plenty of work to be done, and our friends at Safe to Sleep know that better than anyone. They regularly produce materials to help spread the message of safe-sleep practices and why they’re so crucial. Their site is the perfect place to turn for informative photos of exactly what a safe sleep environment looks like, as well as ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. There’s also a helpful page busting all the SIDS-related myths, including that back-sleeping can lead a baby to choke on spitup or vomit–which, as hard as it may seem to believe, just is not the case. The head of Safe to Sleep, Shavon Artis, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., wrote a helpful article for us about how new moms feel about safe-sleep rules. See if you can relate to their experiences.
Since this is SIDS Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to take stock of how well you stick to the safe-sleep guidelines:
- Always put your baby to sleep on his back.
- Don’t put blankets or toys in her crib.
- Use a pacifier at sleep time.
- Don’t smoke while pregnant, and don’t allow anyone to smoke around your infant.
- Don’t share your bed with your baby.
- Make sure the crib mattress is firm and tight-fitting.
- Don’t overdress your child or put his crib near a heat source.
You might want to send this video, courtesy of NICHD, to any expecting moms or caregivers who might need a refresher course:
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Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Reading the flurry of recent online commentary about the new study that shows that the benefits of breastfeeding may not be as powerful as we think, reminds me of the way I feel whenever I read a story that reports that marathon running isn’t necessarily so fantastic for your health: Gotcha! Though I enjoy exercise, due to banal body reasons I will never cross a finish line after logging 26.2 miles. And “marathon running is bad for the heart” headlines, no matter how inflamed they may be, give me a wee bit of pleasure.
So it seems to be for those who write about breastfeeding. Put it in its place! Take it down! The Ohio State University study, published online in Social Science & Medicine, appears to have been well-designed without any conflicts of interest. It found that among children age 4 to 14 years, there was no difference between those who were nursed versus those given formula on outcomes, such as body mass index, asthma, hyperactivity and math ability.
And that’s really great news—a relief, really, since even nursing moms need to supplement with formula sometimes. I nursed my younger two daughters until a little after age one, right in sync with what the AAP recommends. My oldest daughter received pumped breast milk until 6 months, and formula after that, and I can say with her teacher’s blessing that she’s not at risk of being crushed in math. In other words, there’s really no difference among my three girls now, though I do emphasize now. As babies, my oldest had more ear infections, and was much more prone to infections, in general, than my younger two. Is it because of the breast milk? Well, we’ll never really know, she was also born premature, but research does show that breast milk passes along immunities that help prevent ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrhea. Not to mention breast milk is easier to digest than formula (and gas never makes for a happy baby) and, most importantly, reduces the risk of SIDS. Those are benefits not to be dismissed.
It’s time to rephrase our thinking that if a study finds that formula is good, it must mean that breastfeeding isn’t worth the cracked nipples and plugged milk ducts. A step forward for formula doesn’t have to result in a step backward for breast milk. And I would suggest to anyone who thinks that way to do what I do when I feel envious of my marathon-running pals: Sweat it out in a spin class.
To keep track of your baby’s feeding schedule, download our care charts for breastfeeding or formula feeding.
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Thursday, February 20th, 2014
If there’s one thing we know you crave as a new parent, it’s sleep. Of course, for you to get some rest, you need your baby to safely drift off. And that can be grueling during the first year. American Baby, in partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization devoted to preventing childhood injuries, polled more than 4,500 new moms with babies age 1 and younger to find out how parents put their infant to sleep. Find out if you’re making any of the missteps our survey uncovered, and share this infographic with all your new-mom friends. Together, let’s make 2014 the year that babies sleep more safely.
To post the infographic above on your own blog or website, cut and paste this code:
To find out what common safe-sleep mistakes you’re making, click here to see the full story.
What do you need for a safe and sleep-friendly nursery? Download our checklist and find out. Then, learn how to make homemade baby food with our easy how-to guide.
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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Our November issue contains a story that was very difficult for our writer to report and for us to edit, because it’s about SIDS. In fact, “Keep Your Baby Safe” goes beyond SIDS and addresses a lesser-known concept called Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). SUID is the broader category of accidental deaths that include accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. For our story we interviewed pediatrician Rachel Moon, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and internationally-recognized expert on the condition. She told us, “The majority of those babies who die from SUID had been bedsharing or had a blanket or a pillow while sleeping. They didn’t have to die.”
New research emerged this week showing that nearly 14 percent of babies in the U.S. frequently share a bed with other people. In our article, we include stories of five families whose babies either died or had close calls with death while they slept. And among the lessons they want their fellow parents to know are that it just doesn’t matter if you’re a light sleeper. Even if you don’t drink alcohol or take drugs and you wake easily, you’re putting your baby at risk by sleeping with him, whether in bed or on a couch.
Another startling safe-sleep statistic is that even though pediatricians universally recommend back-sleeping, 25 percent of parents still do not put their babies to sleep on their back. As part of its “Safe to Sleep” campaign, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development has created a helpful image to show you exactly what the safest sleep environment for a baby looks like. Everyone who cares for babies in any capacity should take a look–you may be surprised by what shouldn’t be in a crib.
If you read the magazine version of our story, you’ll see photos of 70 babies who died of SIDS or SUID. Our intention was to show just a fraction of the number of babies who accidentally die from sleep-related causes every year. It was enormously generous of their parents to share their child’s photograph with us, and we are very grateful.
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