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:
Baby Sleep Safety: Reduce the Risk of SIDS