In its first safe sleep update since 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents to place babies on their backs and flat surfaces when they sleep. AAP experts also alert parents of the dangers of weighted blankets and hats.
It’s essential to stay informed about the latest recommendations, but as always, follow the advice of your pediatrician. Here’s what you need to know about the new guidelines:
- Flat and firm is the way to go. Use a firm, flat, non-inclined sleeping surface, and put babies in their own space. Sleep surfaces with more than 10 degrees inclines are unsafe for babies younger than four months. That includes car seats, strollers, swings, and carriers.
- Bare is best. When it comes to baby safety, less is more. Experts recommend an empty crib or bassinet with fitted sheets as toys, blankets, and fluffy pillows increase suffocation risk.
- Hats are cute but not worth the risk. There’s no evidence that hats or head coverings prevent hypothermia. The dangers of overheating are more significant than any potential benefits. Never place hats on infants when indoors, except in the first hours of life or in the NICU.
- “Weighted'' objects are not recommended. Weighted blankets are popular because they help adults feel less stress and get a good night’s sleep. However, for babies, weighted blankets or swaddles are not safe. If needed, dress the infant with layers of clothing to keep the infant warm.
- Swaddling. There is no evidence that swaddling prevents sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. If you choose to swaddle your baby, experts recommend stopping when you see the baby trying to roll. That usually happens when they are three months old. Wearable blankets are safe.
- Tummy time. Tummy time is essential for a baby's development, but the baby must be awake and supervised. Start with short periods and increase to at least 15-30 minutes daily by seven weeks of age. This is the first time the AAP has made specific recommendations on how often or how long to place a baby in tummy time.
Being a parent is hard. Remember that your OB and pediatrician are here to help you understand life with a new baby.
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American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Safe Sleep Recommendations: Back is Best (aap.org)
Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org)