As of 2016, official American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy states that infants must share a room but not a bed with their mother. Do moms get the message? Much of the answer, according to a new study, is no.
The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, surveyed 3,260 mothers of infants aged 2 to 6 months and found that less than half (45%) shared the room without bed sharing. Breastfeeding moms (which the AAP strongly recommends) were among those who were more likely to keep their babies in bed with them overnight.
“The official position of the AAP is that no parent should share the bed with their infant due to the risk of suffocation,” says Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, pediatrician in Portland, OR, and author of Baby’s New Plan: Take Care of Yourself and Your Little One. “A baby’s nervous system is very immature, so it’s incapable of responding” in case a parent accidentally turns around or a pillow gets on it, she explains. In his practice, a baby sadly passed away after a father’s arm accidentally wound up on the baby’s face overnight.
Parents should never share their bed if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications that might have trouble waking up, and smokers should also not share the bed (even if they are ‘they don’t smoke) reads). Babies under 4 months of age are particularly at risk of bed sharing.
The ideal scenario is to keep baby in your room but in a separate cradle or crib. It’s actually safer than letting your baby sleep in a crib down the hall, because even if you have a monitor, you are missing some of the “human-to-human” supervision that can help keep your baby safe. security, says Casares. Keeping your baby in your room can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50%, and it will also be easier for you to feed and calm your baby at night.
Other smart movements: Always put babies under one year old to sleep on their backs, even if they have a tendency to spit. (Their gag reflex will prevent choking.) Don’t put anything other than sheets – including toys and blankets – in the crib or bassinet, and make sure the sleeping surface is flat and firm.
If your baby is having trouble sleeping, Casares recommends swaddling him and using a white noise machine or app. “These can be really effective ways to mimic the feeling of being in the womb,” she says.
Finally, try to take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to lean on your partner, family and friends. If you can afford it, you might consider enlisting additional help. “We know that sleep deprivation is common, but it’s a major contributor to postpartum depression and anxiety,” Casares says. “The more we can provide new moms with what they need, the better they can handle insomnia.”
3 safe steps
Share a room, not a bed. Sharing the bed with newborns can be dangerous.
Keep him naked. Babies don’t need bumpers, pillows or blankets; these items can increase the risk of suffocation.
Put babies to sleep on their backs. It reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
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