Safety Tips For Sleeping Infants During Colder Months
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) reminds parents to follow recommended safe sleep practices for infants, particularly during the colder winter months, which present different challenges for keeping babies warm and free from danger.
“Infant mortality is a serious public health concern, and we live in a state where far too many children don’t live to celebrate their first birthdays,” said Dr. Ruth Ann Shepherd, director of the Division of Maternal and Child Health for DPH. “In fact, Kentucky’s infant mortality rate remains higher than the national average. This is due in part to sleep-related events that could potentially be prevented with infant safe sleep practices.”
Shepherd said the best way to prevent sleep-related deaths is to eliminate environmental factors that put infants at risk for injury or death. Specifically, she emphasized the importance of never smoking around a baby, since second-hand smoke can contribute to sudden, unexplained infant death.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these preventive practices to avoid sleep-related deaths and to keep infants safe and comfortable:
- Put baby to sleep alone in a crib, bassinet or play yard, such as a “pack-and-play.” The baby’s sleep area should be in the parent’s room, but not in the parent’s bed. An adult bed is never a safe place for an infant to sleep. Consult a health care provider for guidance on when to move baby to his or her own room.
- Always place infants on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Keep the baby’s sleeping area – whether crib, bassinet or play yard – free and clear of soft objects, such as stuffed animals, toys, loose bedding, bumper pads and pillows.
- Breastfeeding your baby reduces the risks of SIDS, but babies should be put to sleep in their own crib after feedings, in a bed next to but separate from the mother’s bed.
How to dress infants for sleep can be a great challenge as the outside temperatures drop and parents and caregivers worry about keeping infants warm enough. DPH recommends the following guidelines for winter sleep:
- Baby can be dressed in one-piece pajamas or wearable blanket. Wearable blankets can be layered over undershirts or onesie. Do not let your baby get too hot, by overdressing or wrapping in heavy blankets.
- If possible, keep the baby’s room at a comfortable temperature. The room should be comfortable for an adult between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If a blanket must be used to keep a baby warm for sleeping, it should cover the baby’s feet and lower body but not come higher than the baby’s chest, with the baby’s arms out. It should be tucked in around the mattress at the sides and bottom of the crib so that it cannot slide up to the baby’s face.
“Remember to keep all portable heaters away from the baby’s sleep area. The baby can overheat if too close to a heater, get burns or tangle up in the cords of small electric heaters,” said Sherry Rock, DPH child fatality program administrator. “These are just small steps for parents and caregivers, but they can make all the difference in keeping infants safe.”
For the holiday season, when buying gifts for infants or expectant mothers, you can promote safe sleep by giving families some of the following items as holiday gifts:
– Portable play yard, cribs or bassinets.
– Flannel crib, bassinet or play yard sheets that are designed to fit the appropriate sleep surface.
– Wearable winter sleep sacks.
– One piece pajamas (sleepers).
– Undershirts and onesies.
DPH advises that decorative quilts, pillows and stuffed animals should not be placed in baby’s crib. During this gift giving season remember that many families struggle to provide appropriate safe sleep environments for their infants, especially during the cold months.
Story provided by Kentucky Health and Family Services Cabinet