The American Academy of Pediatrics, or the AAP, has released a list of recommendations that lays out a safe sleeping environment for infants. According to the AAP, about 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths each year in the United States, one of which is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or more commonly known as SIDS.
According to pediatricians, there are simple solutions that parents can do to greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.
Parents should always make sure that babies lie on a "supine" position, lying on their backs instead of their stomachs, and babies should never sleep on a couch or a chair, but in a firm and comfortable surface akin to a crib that has tight-fitted sheets.
One of the most notable recommendations is an extremely simple, but often overlooked habit: sleeping in the same room as the infant's. It is recommended to sleep with, but not beside an infant every night for one whole year. If that's not possible, a minimum of six months is recommended. Parents must set-up a separate crib or a bassinet for their baby.
They should be put in a surface unobstructed by any piece of material that could smother them, like soft toys, bumpers, or suffocating pillows. Sleeping on a different bed ensures that infants aren't going to be suffocated, strangled and trapped, which are risks that can occur if a child sleeps on the same bed as the parents'.
"We do know that if a baby is in the same room and not on the same surface as a parent, that the risk of dying is halved compared to if the baby's in a separate room," Rachel Moon said, lead author of the report.
Apart from these simple recommendations written by the AAP, parents can also take one step ahead and consider additional guidelines that help avoid SIDS. Parents should make sure that their babies aren't exposed to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs. The pediatricians also say that breastfeeding reduces the chance of SIDS.
In the 1990s, cases of SIDS decreased after a national safe sleep campaign, but cases attributable to sleep-related infant deaths have failed to wane in recent years.
To summarize, babies should always sleep in a firm and flat surface, lying on their backs instead of their stomachs. This is ideal because soft mattresses can "create a pocket" that paves the risk for suffocation if an infant rolls over and shifts to a "prone" position, or lying on their stomach. They must be in the same room where the parents sleep, but they must not share their parents' bed, but instead sleep on a separate crib or bassinet. The space in which babies sleep must be unobstructed and clear, with nothing else surrounding the infant.