Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocations remain the leading cause of infant deaths beyond the neonatal period, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. SIDS is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths each year, many of which can be attributed to unsafe sleep environments.
Makeshift sleeping arrangements over the holidays can pose serious suffocation risks for infants, says Katie Koss, R.N., interim manager of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital.
“It’s important to put babies to sleep alone on their backs and keep blankets, pillows and toys out of the crib,” says Koss. “In addition, adults should never sleep in the same bed with small children, or use down comforters, beds of pillows or other unconditional sleep environments like drawers or baskets.”
Koss says most hotels provide crib accommodations, or parents can pack portable cribs or “play yards” approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
Other safe sleeping tips include:
• Always use a firm, tight-fitting mattress with a fitted sheet in cribs and portable cribs.
• Hanging crib toys or mobiles should be out of reach and must be removed if your baby is 5 months or older, or is sitting or standing. These toys can be strangulation hazards.
• Items like swings, bouncy seats and car seats do not provide a safe sleep environment for infants and should only be used for their intended purposes.
Koss says caregivers should also make sure that grandparents and family members know to place infants on their backs when putting them to sleep. In addition, grandparents and other guests should not leave prescription medications out in the open, as many children can mistake them for candy. She says general house childproofing is recommended, including placing safety locks on cabinets, gates on stairs and covers on electrical outlets.
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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
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