One of the first lessons of parenting is to expect the unexpected. When planning for the arrival of a new baby, you probably don’t anticipate needing a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). However, if your baby is born prematurely or develops any complications after birth, comprehensive care is vital. Here’s why you should choose a hospital with a NICU.
Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is the sudden death of a newborn in their sleep. Despite nearly 3,500 occurrences of SIDS each year, the exact cause is still unknown. That is why safe sleeping positions are critical during your newborn’s first few months of life. Here are a few tips to ensure your infant is sleeping not just soundly, but safely.
Tip #1: Place your baby on their back while sleeping
A common misconception is that placing a baby on their back to sleep increases their risk of choking or suffocation. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“When placed face down to sleep, babies’ airways are restricted. And in the event that a baby regurgitates or spits up fluids during the night, they lack the muscle strength to move their head or body to breathe,” said Dr. Kristen Trom, D.O., Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Mullica Hill Commons. “However, when sleeping on their back, a baby’s airways are exposed for easy breathing. This means that any fluids that come up throughout the night won’t suffocate your baby because the fluids can clear their airways.”
Tip #2: Remove all loose clothing and bedding from the area
Recently, a three-year study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that unintentional suffocation is the most common cause of injury or death in infants less than a year old. More specifically, 82 percent of infant deaths during this study were attributed to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
“It’s critical that you keep your baby’s sleeping area free from things like blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, and stuffed toys,” said Trom. “The study mentioned that 14 percent of SIDS cases were suffocation cases—and of these suffocation cases, 69 percent were caused by soft bedding. The safest sleeping area for your baby is one clear of all extra clothing, bedding and toys.”
Tip #3: Avoid sleeping in the same bed as your baby
It is important that you never sleep with your baby in an adult bed, especially during an infant’s first four months of life when the risk of SIDS is greatest.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), room-sharing, which involves having a crib in the same room as where you sleep, instead of bed-sharing, which is when both you and your infant sleep in the same bed, lowers your baby’s SIDS risk by nearly 50 percent,” said Trom. “Instead of bed-sharing to keep an eye on your baby all night, reposition your room so you can have their crib next to your bed.”