New-born babies should be put to bed in the same bedroom as their parents but not on the same bed for the first year of their life. They should be laid on a separate surface or a crib as this may help avoid cot death among infants, researchers have suggested.
“Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. These surfaces are extremely hazardous,” said lead author Rachel Moon from the University of Virginia in the US.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age.
“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” Moon added, in a new policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Explaining how to create a safe sleep environment for babies, child health experts recommended skin-to-skin care regardless of feeding or delivery method, immediately following birth for at least an hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake.
While infants are at heightened risk for SIDS between the ages one and four months, new evidence shows that soft bedding continues to pose hazards to babies who are four months and older.
Thus, after feeding, parents should move the baby to his or her separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents’ bedroom.
“There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating,” noted Lori Feldman-Winter, Professor at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey, US.
“If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” Feldman-Winter suggested in the report published online in the journal Pediatrics.