Safe Kids Erie urges parents and caregivers to remember the phrase "Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play." To minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies need to sleep on their backs, facing up and play on their tummies, facing down. SIDS is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants under a year, and claims the lives of nearly 2500 babies each year.1 In addition, there are up to 2,000 sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SUID) caused by accidental suffocation or accidents during sleep each year. For many of these babies, the safe sleep and safety recommendations may have been able to save their lives.2
Babies need to sleep face up, on their backs, until they're old enough to turn themselves over. The phrase "Back to Sleep" has saved hundreds of lives. Babies suffocate when their face becomes wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow, cushion, blanket, soft toy or when someone in the same bed or couch rolls over onto them.
It's tempting to hold your baby in bed with you, but think very carefully about the latest sleeping guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's risky to share a bed or sofa with a baby, especially if you're tired, you've been drinking alcohol or you're taking medication. Falling asleep with an infant puts the baby at risk for SIDS or SUID. Infants should be put to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib, with no comforters, soft toys, bedding, blankets or bumper pads. They can obstruct the baby’s breathing. Safe Kids Erie recommends placing the baby in the crib wearing a zip up baby blanket, and a pacifier. Further recommendations include no exposure to cigarette smoke, as there is some evidence of a higher risk of SIDS in babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke. The air temperature in the nursery should be comfortable for an adult. 3
Safe Kids Erie also recommends these precautions for babies who cannot yet turn themselves over (generally, babies less than six months old):
The safest place for the baby to sleep is in a safety-approved crib with a JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) label indicating that it meets national safety standards.
Check www.cpsc.org for crib recalls; cribs should have railings that are not more than 2 ⅜ inches apart.
Make sure the baby's crib has a firm, tight-fitting mattress (no more than two fingers of space between crib and mattress) and that is free of all plastic wrappings. Use standard crib sheets; never use adult sheets as a substitution.
Home monitors, consumer products or medical devices have not been shown to be effective in preventing SIDS; do not rely on them alone
To prevent the baby's head from developing a flat spot in back, allow plenty of "tummy time" for the baby while awake and constantly supervised. Don't leave a baby in a carrier, car seat or bouncer all day. Safe Kids Erie wants you to enjoy time with your infant, and remind mothers about these safety tips to prevent SIDS. For more information, or for SIDS prevention education, please contact Patty Puline, Safe Kids Coordinator at 451-6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patty Puline, Coordinator
Safe Kids and Injury Prevention Program
Erie County Department of Health
This information is distributed by Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, www.ecdh.org