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ABCs of Safe Sleep

by Katelyn Fowler, BSN, RN, RNC-OB

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) awareness month. More than 3,500 infants die each year in the United States from sleep-related deaths. In Pennsylvania, that means 80 babies die each year, that’s four kindergarten classes that will never be. These deaths include sudden unexpected infant death syndrome (SUIDS), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ill-defined deaths as well as accidental suffocation and strangulation. SIDS is determined when healthy infants die unexpectedly in their sleep with no discernable cause of death. Infants are vulnerable to SIDS during their first year of life, particularly between the second and fourth months of age.

Learn Your ABCs

To ensure your baby is sleeping safe, follow the ABCs: By placing your baby to sleep Alone on his or her Back in the Crib.  

Alone

  • A baby should sleep in the same room as an adult, but in their own crib. Bedsharing is not safe.
  • Don't put crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or toys in your baby's crib. 
  • The only thing in baby's crib should be a firm mattress and a fitted sheet. 

Back

  • Put your baby on their back to sleep for naps and bedtime until their first birthday. 
  • Always put your baby back in their crib after feeding.
  • Practice tummy time daily during awake hours and with adult supervision

Crib

  • A baby should only sleep in a crib. Never put your baby to sleep on a couch, chair, waterbed, or other soft space.
  • Never put your baby to sleep in a crib made more than 10 years ago or one that has missing or broken parts.
  • Don't make the room your baby sleeps in too hot.  Dress your baby in no more than one more layer then you are wearing.

Keeping your baby away from smoke, alcohol, and illegal drugs is also vital to his or her safety.
Much has been learned in recent years to help safeguard infants while they sleep. Be sure to take time to review Safe Sleep practices carefully with everyone entrusted with your baby’s care. That means baby-sitters, grand-parents, family members, and day care providers.

Babies can’t move away or adjust their position when something gets in the way of their breathing. Soft surfaces, smoke, close quarters, and loose fabrics are threats we can easily help babies avoid. Parents, family members, and other caregivers must give babies a safe sleep environment because they cannot do it for themselves.

Learn more about Maternity Care at UPMC in the Susquehanna region.