Soft objects and loose bedding- such as thick blankets, quilts and pillows- can obstruct an infant's airway and pose a risk of suffocation, according to a research.
Nearly 55% of US infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), reveal the findings from a research campaign called "Safe to Sleep", which was conducted by the US National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other institutions.
"Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby's risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation," said Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, the study's first author and senior scientist in CDC's Division of Reproductive Health in the US.
Relatives may give parents quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby and they feel obligated to use them.
"But babies should be placed for sleep on a firm, safety approved mattress and fitted sheet, without any other bedding," Shapiro-Mendoza added.
"Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby's sleep area," Shapiro-Mendoza said.
Based on responses from nearly 20,000 care givers, the researchers reported that although the usage of such potentially unsafe bedding items declined from 85.9% in 1993-1995, it still remained high at 54.7%, in 2008-2010.
As part of the survey, care givers were asked whether infants were placed to sleep on such items as blankets, bean bag chairs, rugs, sheepskin, cushions or pillows.
Care givers were also asked whether the infant was covered with bedding materials such as blankets, quilts, comforters, sheepskin or pillows.
The "Safe to Sleep" research campaign results advise against blankets or other coverings, recommend sleep clothing, such as one-piece sleepers, and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.