Safe sleep is an important topic that needs to be discussed more with both expectant parents and new moms. It wasn’t until I was late in my first pregnancy that I learned about all of the safe sleep recommendations, and by then I’d already been given gifts that went against safe sleep recommendations – like blankets, pillowcases and such. These things were gorgeous, but they just didn’t get used.
Approximately 23,500 babies die a year from sleep-related deaths. This includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation and strangulation. Let’s make it our mission to do what we can to ensure our babies are as safe as they can be when we put them down for sleep.
Today I’m going to discuss 3 unsafe sleep practices I see all too often on social media, but if you’d like to learn more about safe sleep you can head here.
You may have noticed that Rock N Play’s were recalled not too long ago due to babies dying in them. These are not the only inclined sleepers on the market. Although many parents feel that inclined sleepers help their baby sleep better – especially ones with a rocking feature as well, there are a few different reasons why they are unsafe:
- Babies can roll while unrestrained and then are unable to breathe.
- A baby’s oxygen level can drop while sleeping on an incline. This is because their head can fall forward in a way that obstructs their airways.
- The straps in the sleepers can have the potential to cause strangulation.
Sometimes parents resort to using included sleepers or wedges when their baby has reflux, either because they have heard that it will help reflux or because their pediatrician recommends it. I’m here to tell parents that this is not safe. The AAP recommends that the surface be a crib or bassinet that lays flat with only a firm mattress covered with a fitted sheet in it. The other thing to note is that an incline won’t make your baby safer if they spit up due to reflux or everyday spit up because a baby’s anatomy keeps them from choking.
My recommendation is that parents only use that have the name Crib, Bassinet, or Play yard attached to them. The reason for this is that they are regulated names with the CPSC and are therefore considered safe for sleep. Names like Sleeper, Napper or Loungers are not regulated terms.
Bumpers can look so pretty on a crib, which can make them appealing for new parents to buy or for well meaning friends and family to gift. The problem is though, they are unsafe. In one study they found 27 deaths due to bumpers.
Bumpers were originally made to prevent babies from injury or death from getting their heads stuck between the slats in cribs. This is not a safety concern anymore because the spaces between slats in the crib have been made smaller. Sometimes babies can get their arms or legs out of the slats and parents also worry about this or hurting themselves when they are not fully capable of getting down from a standing position. A few bumps or bruises are all they will likely experiences, which will improve in a couple of days, making no bumpers still much safer.
There are a few different concerns around bumpers:
- They can cause death by suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.
- If a baby gets up close to the bumper it can have the potential to cause breathing difficulties.
- Even if the material of a bumper is breathable, there is still the potential for a baby to get entangled in the fabric or caught in the strings that are used to attach the bumper to the crib.
Dock a Tots (or similar brands).
Dock a Tots are hugely popular now. I have worked with many families who are transitioning their baby out of using them. And given that the Dock a Tot website suggests that it is safe for co-sleeping makes parents think that it is a safe place for their baby to sleep.
The Director of Marketing for Dock a Tot was interviewed and said that the Dock a Tot is not intended for sleeping. Such conflicting information makes it hard to make safe decisions. Basically though, the Dock a Tot is unsafe because:
- If parents put the Dock a Tot in the crib a baby can get entrapped between the Dock a Tot and the side of the crib.
- There is a risk of suffocation if the baby rolls or turns their head to the side.
- There is the issue of re-breathing carbon dioxide. Re-breathing is when a person breathes in their own stale exhaled air causing oxygen levels to drop and the level of carbon dioxide to rise. A baby’s face doesn’t have to be pushed right up against the side of the Dock a Tot to be rebreathing.
My advise to new and expectant parents when they are setting up their nursery or buying all their baby’s sleep products is to really read the fine print and instruction manuals to make sure that the product is safe. Often even though a lot of the images on advertising or other information on the websites suggest it is okay for sleep, the fine print will say differently. It may state something to the effect of “Not intended for sleep” or “A baby must be fully supervised when using”.