Is Your Baby’s Sleep Environment Safe?

posted: 08/16/16
by: Katherine Sosnoff

A new study released this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reveals that many parents still put their children to sleep in risky sleep environments, despite efforts from healthcare providers and public service campaigns to properly educate parents about infant sleep safety.

The study consisted of 167 infants, ages 1, 3 and 6 months, being video-recorded for a sleep study, and the results were alarming. Per the AAP report:

"Most parents, even when aware of being recorded, placed the infants in environments with established risk factors for sleep-related infant deaths, including positioning the children on their sides or stomachs; soft sleep surface; loose bedding; or bed-sharing. Among the 167 infants enrolled in the study, those who were moved in the middle of the night were even more likely to be placed in a sleep environment that posed hazards."

So what's going on here? Why are parents ignoring the advice of experts? When my husband and I became new parents last September, sleep was a big topic of discussion from both our doctors at the hospital and our pediatrician. We were given clear guidelines of the sleeping conditions we needed to adhere to, including placing our baby on his back on a flat, firm sleeping surface and ignoring the urge to buy those adorable crib bumpers.

But then...no sleep happened. While we stayed pretty steadfast in maintaining a safe sleep environment for our son, I can't tell you how many well-meaning friends and family shared their ideas for getting our seemingly-allergic-to-sleep newborn to give us more than a few hours of rest at a time. Many recommended co-sleeping, while others thought tummy sleeping would be fine and more comfortable for baby. A quick Google search on baby sleeping issues will show forum after forum of moms trading success stories about baby swings or other options that definitely don't meet the "flat, firm sleeping surface" requirement or posting pictures of their newborn's crib adorned with blankets and stuffed animals.

I would be lying if I said we never considered any of these methods out of sheer desperation and I certainly would never judge any parent for doing what was best for their family. However, at the end of the day, my worrywart side won over and we ended up just toughing out those brutal months of sleeplessness, knowing that when we actually did manage to get some shuteye, we could rest a little easier.