Babies sleeping in the bed with their adult parents has been a practice for thousands of years. There are few things more comforting to most babies than the feel of the physical presence of their parents. The warmth, the familiar smells, the soothing sounds and the feel of the body to body contact. For the parent, it’s the close proximity of their baby, especially if it is their first born child. The convenience when breastfeeding of the baby right beside you and the temptation to sleep as the baby nurses makes placing the infant in the bed with an adult a seemingly attractive option.
But, during the past two decades, the majority of the child fatality cases reviewed by the Gaston County Child Fatality Team have involved a baby left in an adult size bed, sleeping with an adult. In some cases the cause of death was identified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In other cases, the cause of death was identified as asphyxiation or suffocation. There are few things more tragic than finding a baby dead in a bed with adults right beside them, especially when that death is so easily preventable.
Prevent Child Abuse Gaston partnered with the Gaston County Department of Social Services, the Gaston County Health Department and the Birth Center at Caromont in developing magnets and rack cards to raise awareness about this problem. The 10 points developed by the Gaston County Health Department and the Birth Center are as follows:
- Place baby to sleep on back for nap or at nighttime, not on tummy or side. Remember, “stomach to play, back to sleep”.
- Place baby in a safe crib and make sure baby does not sleep on sofa or in bed with other people – a crib or bassinet near parents’ bed is a good option.
- Use a firm mattress that fits the crib or bassinet and has no gaps between the mattress and the frame.
- Use a fitted sheet that is the right size for the mattress and tuck blankets in.
- Do not use bumper pads, sleep position wedges or pillows in the crib.
- Keep toys and fluffy blankets out of the crib while baby sleeps.
- Make sure the baby’s room is in the safe temperature range of 68 to 75 degrees F – using a thermometer in the baby’s room can help.
- Position crib or bassinet away from the heating vent.
- Prevent overheating by layering the baby’s clothes and not overdressing.
- Keep ALL cigarette smoke away from pregnant women and babies (awake or asleep).