When putting your child to bed, you don't often think of how a pillow or toy could kill your baby, but that's exactly what the facts say.
The sad truth is that about 3,500 infants in the U.S. succumb to sudden infant death syndrome each year. (SIDS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about a third of these deaths are actually due to how women put their little ones to sleep.
Before laying your baby down for bed, set up a safe environment for them to rest in.
Health experts say that wrapping your infant into a blanket cocoon and laying them on their backs, with no other elements in the bedding area is the safest way to put your baby to sleep.
And yes, this means no loose bedding, no pillows and no toys. Mr. Bubbles will just have to leave the bed while it's naptime.
Here's the problem
Although being warned, parents still put their children to bed in dangerous situations.
They either put their infants in bed with them or they are suffocated by items in the crib. Though it's not intentional, bedding and other materials can easily smother your child while they sleep.
The number one item on the market that tends to smother infants are bumper pads. Dr. Deborah Campbell, Chief of Neonatology at Children's Hospital at Montefiore, says "You walk into any baby store and you see these products, like bumper pads and sleep positioners - there is no evidence that they protect babies, and may instead rather pose a suffocation hazard." While they do make your crib look cute, they are actually life threatening.
Other factors such as placing an infant on its side or stomach (or even exhausted parents who just want their child to sleep) increase the risk of accidental death in infants.
Here's the study
160 families with infants agreed to have film equipment set up in their homes. Recordings were taken at different stages during the next six months of their infant's life to observe how parents put their children to bed.
The study revealed that anywhere from 14% to 33% of infants were put to bed in an unsafe position. Also, the majority of infants slept with unsafe items in there sleeping area. What's worse is how many infants were moved during the night to sleep in their parent's bed.
What parents should do
Staying informed and continuing to check on your child through the night is necessary. Experts agree that SIDS is rising, and exhausted parents might be the reason. Be alert when you put your child to bed.
Remember to remove bumper pads, loose bedding, and any stuffed animals or pillows when your infant is sleeping. Laying your child on their stomach or on their side will only increase risks.
Parents should also continue to talk with their family doctor or pediatrician about their infant's sleeping patterns. During routine check ups, discuss how to keep your baby safe and warm while they sleep without using blankets.
Your child's sleeping environment is key, especially when you are not in the room. Aim to take safe sleeping measures, stay alert and keep your sweet baby safe.