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Report: Infants Should Share Room With Parents For Up To A Year

November 01, 2016

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that parents spend even more quality time with their infants, specifically in the same room during the overnight hours to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths.

The professional group of 66,000 pediatricians, in its first policy update since 2011, said this week that parents should share their bedroom with their infants for at least the first six months and, preferably, the first year. A policy statement includes new research that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants, recommends babies sleep in the same room but not the same bed as their parents and suggests room-sharing can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, by as much as 50 percent.

The rate of SIDS dropped dramatically in the 1990s after pediatricians recommended infants sleep on their backs, but about 3,500 infant deaths each year in the United States are still sleep-related. That includes death by obstructed breathing (strangulation and suffocation), unlike a SIDS death — sudden and unexplained, perhaps caused by sleep position, overheating or even exposure to cigarette smoke.

The academy offered these safe-sleep tips:

  • 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.

 

The report’s authors cited new evidence to support past warnings that soft bedding is a hazard to babies 4 months and older.  (SIDS risk peaks between ages 1 month and 4 months.) They also reaffirm previous recommendations that bans pillows, blankets and stuffed animals in a crib or playpen. A pacifier can also reduce the risk of SIDS from 50 percent to 90 percent.

Sharing a room, not a bed, also reduces suffocation, strangulation and entrapment while allowing parents to monitor the infant throughout the night.

Other recommendations:

  • Offer a pacifier at before a nap and at bedtime.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development.

For more information on Hartford HealthCare’s Department of Pediatrics, click here.