One statistic reports that a new parent loses up to 1000 hours of sleep during their child’s first year, and 45% reported that a top reason for that lack of sleep was worry about baby’s safety. With the latest recommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and all the recent understanding about the impact of sleep on overall health, new parents will need some strategies to survive (and even enjoy your little bundle of joy)!
Review of the recommendations:
The AAP recently issued new recommendations to reduce SUIDs (Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths); not long before that, a Penn State study showed that up to 93% of parents or caregivers did not always follow the sleep safety recommendations that were in effect at that time. So here is a quick review of the new and expanded AAP recommendations and a few suggestions to make it easier for you to become a Safe Sleep Pro. (As always, specific questions should be directed to your pediatrician or health practitioner.)
AAP 2016 recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment include (but are not limited to….. see link above for complete resource):
- “Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
- Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
- Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
- Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs. “
In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued more specific warnings about crib sheets “which can sometimes be hazardous to babies” Safety Alert 5137 describes precautions to ensure a safer environment, including: making “sure crib sheets fit snugly on a crib mattress and overlap the mattress so it cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet” and to “never use an adult sheet on a crib mattress; it can become loose and present an entanglement hazard to young children.”
Getting into the safety habit
As with everything, practice makes perfect, and sleep safety will become a habit – just like putting on a seatbelt. (The suggestions below are not official AAP recommendations, but our suggestions to help you put them into action)
Decorate the nursery, not the crib. Decorating a nursery is a fun, time-honored tradition that often involves family and friends. Be clear with your crew, that the crib can only have a sheet in it, and a sheet that fits tightly and can’t be pulled off at the corners. Bumpers, quilts, pillows, blankets, toys, and everything else are out.
Teach your parents well (and all caregivers). I know your relatives and friends might say something like: “Gee, not sure how you survived childhood with a blanket, bumper and a drop side on your crib; but, these recommendations are in place to save lives, and they were developed in response to real hazards and real infant deaths. You are not likely to give up the use of the latest and safest car seat in response to such a comment, so stand firm on your sleep practices as well.
Nodding off, naptime, nighttime - Treat every sleep the same. It does not matter long a baby is going to sleep, work to create the same safe environment.
Be careful of short cuts, they might be too good to be true- Babies can make us desperate for sleep, but make sure you evaluate suggestions that sound like they will make your life easier in light of the new safety recommendations.
At QuickZip, we hear from our customers that one piece of safety gear that they had not really thought about as safety gear is the crib sheet, the only item in the crib with your baby. In all the research preparing for a new child, it often does not come up. Of the approximately 3500 SUIDs deaths in 2014, 25% were due to “accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed” (CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/sids/data.htm). That number is not just a number to us. We know one of those numbers. Tricia, a nurse, lost her baby Isaac at 6 months of age when he got wrapped in a traditional fitted crib sheet. His traditional sheet appeared to fit “tightly” on the mattress as recommended, but popped off. Tricia believes that the regulatory recommendations and alerts do not go far enough to warn parents of this risk. She is now a tireless crusader for crib safety. Happily, she and her husband have two awesome and healthy boys and the youngest is sleeping on QuickZip because it is a safer alternative, which goes beyond the CPSC recommendation because it wraps all the way around the bottom of the mattress. QuickZip also makes safety easy; it can be quickly changed by zipping off and on the zip-on sheet without lifting the mattress out of the crib each time. Tricia found QuickZip after their tragedy, and she one of our strongest supporters. (She even got BabiesRUs to carry our sheets after telling them her story.) We keep Isaac in our hearts and honor his memory by selling safer sheets and by following Tricia’s example in spreading the message of crib sheet safety.