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Are you sure your baby is safe while sleeping?

Are you sure your baby is safe while sleeping?

Watching infants sleep is one of the most beautiful sights parents have of their children. The unique positions they take while sleeping, the tranquil expressions of their faces, and the peaceful rhythm of their breathing makes sleeping babies appear like angels in our midst.

Newborns and infants spend the majority of their days sleeping, usually between 12-16 hours per day. Therefore, where and how infants sleep is an important factor in their health and wellbeing. Parents play a significant role in the selection of the location, position, and surroundings of their infants, including while they sleep. Knowing how to choose infant sleeping locations, positions and surroundings that do not negatively affect their health is a parental responsibility.

REDUCE THE RISK OF ACCIDENTAL SUFFOCATION AND SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS).

All major pediatric organizations recommend that infants sleep on their backs, sleep on a firm surface and do not have loose items on the sleeping surface, such as blankets, stuffed toys, bedding, pillows or positioners, which may obstruct their nose and mouth. Some parents are either unaware or are not using safe sleep practices which may negatively affect their infants’ health. Unsafe infant sleeping practices may cause accidental suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Many parents prioritize getting or keeping an infant asleep over the safety of the location, position, or surroundings they place their baby in. However, doing so may increase the risk of accidental suffocation or SIDS. Infants sleeping in a large bed with loose bedding, infants sleeping on their bellies, or infants sleeping in cribs or cradles with pillows, stuffed toys, or sleep positioners may move during the night and cause partial or complete blockage of the their nose and mouth.

Infants only breathe through their noses until around 4 months. Additionally, babies do not yet have full coordination of their head, hands and arms and body until closer to 5 months. This means that if their bodies wiggle into a position in which their face is obstructed or a loose item covers their nose, they do not have the ability to move themselves or move the item out of way to allow for easy breathing. For these reasons, parents must assure that the sleep location, position, and surroundings of their infants remain safe throughout the sleep cycle.

CHOOSE THE SAFEST POSITION FOR YOUR BABY TO SLEEP

Additionally, infants who are not placed on flat surfaces to sleep are not able to breathe well. Infants, who sleep in car seats or swings, especially during the first 3 months of life, have lower levels of oxygenation. This means their brains receive less oxygen than they need for healthy growth and development. This occurs because of the curved position of their body. In a curved position, infants do not have enough strength in their abdominal muscles or chest strength to pull in air effectively. Therefore they breathe less deeply to pull in fresh air and are less able to exhale used air to release carbon dioxide. Over time, oxygen levels may lower and carbon dioxide levels may increase which influences the infant’s body, growth and function.

Cultural norms and beliefs affect how strictly parents adhere to safe sleep practices. These cultural norms and beliefs may be stronger than the perceived risks related to unsafe sleep practices for infants. However, safe sleep practices reduce the risk of accidental suffocation and SIDS. Therefore, parents are encouraged to follow the recommendations of major pediatric health organizations and listen to their health care providers for accurate advice about safe sleep practices. Incorporating these recommendations into parenting routines and practices creates safe sleep for babies.

Parents can assure their infants have safe sleep practices at all times by following the following guiding principles:

Do:

  • Use a firm, flat surface for naptime and bedtime.
  • Place babies on their back to sleep.
  • Have a designated sleeping area.
  • Remove all extra bedding, toys, pillows, and positioners from the crib or sleeping area.

Avoid:

  • Placing babies on their bellies to sleep.
  • Having infants sleep on furry pads, thick blankets or comforters.
  • Co-sleeping with infants, especially if under the influence of alcohol, pain medications, or sleeping aids.Having infants sleep on couches or chairs.
  • Having infants sleep in car seats, carriers or swings.

Parents can avoid creating stress at nap and bedtime by teaching infants safe sleep practices early. It is much easier and less traumatic for infants to learn how to sleep safely from the beginning rather than allowing them to become accustomed to unsafe sleeping habits that put them at risk and must later be changed.

Proactive parents can prepare a safe infant sleeping environment before giving birth. Having everything ready and knowing which sleep positions are safest will make it easier for parents to begin teaching their infants healthy habits from the very beginning.

It is important to note that some infants will be more resistant to adapting to safe sleep practices than other. Parenting often involves guiding children to healthy habits for their safety and well-being. Therefore, parents should not give up on safe sleep practices because their infant does not immediately adjust. Parents, knowing the safety risks of accidental suffocation and SIDS, need to continue to encourage their infants to embrace the habits of safe sleep practices.

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Saturday, 22 July 2017

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