One of the most exciting parts of pregnancy is setting up the baby's nursery, including putting together the crib and the adorable bedding and stuffed animals that complete the look. However, expecting parents are commonly reminded that nothing should stay in the crib once the baby makes it home.

Surprisingly enough, a new study found that parents are still making this major mistake.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a new study on Monday, Aug. 15, in the journal Pediatrics that revealed an alarmingly large amount of babies are sleeping in unsafe environments.

Researchers recorded the sleep patterns of 160 one-month-olds, 151 three-month-olds and 147 six-month-old infants during each of these ages for one night in their homes. What they found was disturbing.

Despite the fact that parents knew they were being recorded, with many of them well-educated and married, 91 percent of those in the study placed their one-month-olds in cribs with unsafe items, such as bedding, pillows, bumper pads, sleep positioners and stuffed animals, while 87 percent did so with their three-month-olds and 93 percent with their six-month-olds.

This means that nine out of 10 parents are putting their babies to bed with unsafe bedding and other items.

Putting the baby in a crib with unsafe bedding or accessories was not the only thing the researchers found parents are still doing wrong. The study also revealed that 14 percent of parents are placing their babies on their stomachs or sides and not on their backs when putting them down to sleep.

The researchers found that only 64 percent of babies were always on their backs while monitoring the babies' sleep positions throughout the night.

Both practices are especially dangerous, since it could increase the risk of being smothered, suffocating or suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

"These findings have important implications for public health messaging regarding both initial placement and handling of the infant in the middle of the night. Although safe sleep messages have been emphasized for years, our data suggest that parents are not strictly adhering to the guidance on safe sleep environments," the researchers write. "This lack of adherence may be at least partly because of persistent cultural norms and beliefs."

For example, bedding and related items are commonly sold at retail stores next to cribs, so many parents might assume they are safe.

According to the CDC, although the rate of SIDS has decreased since 1990, the rate of accidental suffocation and strangulation of babies when in bed has increased, with it reaching its highest rate in 2014 with 21.4 deaths for every 100,000 live births.

Removing all potentially hazardous items in the baby's crib while they sleep, like blankets and toys, as well as placing the baby on their back, are good ways to reduce this risk.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Photo: Caitlin Regan | Flickr

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