For new parents, the fear of sleep-related deaths never dissipates.
Michael Ann and Christian Cervantes, a couple with a 6-month-old daughter named Emma, certainly have experienced it, with Michael Ann noting it “never really goes away no matter where she is sleeping.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its guidelines on safe sleeping for little ones and what parents should be doing to reduce the risks.
The group recommends babies sleeping in the same room as their parents for six months to a year after they are born.
But as any parent would know, getting your baby to sleep can be a daunting task.
“Her sleeping habits are still changing,” said Michael Ann of her daughter. “I think she is finally getting into a routine.”
Overall, the Chestnut Mountain couple struggled in the first few months getting her to sleep anywhere other than their bed.
“Before she was born, we planned for her to sleep in her crib or in the bassinet in our room,” Michael Ann said.
The nation’s most influential pediatricians’ group said it updated its safe-sleep guidance because of studies suggesting that room-sharing reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by as much as 50 percent.
There was never a question about whether or not Emma would sleep in the same room as her parents.
“It’s so scary to have your child in another room when they are so tiny,” Michael Ann said. “You aren’t sure what is happening or how they may be lying down, whether it is on their side or back.”
The new recommendations also said babies should sleep on a separate surface, in a crib or bassinet, and never on something soft.
For two decades, the academy has advocated that babies be placed on their backs for sleeping to reduce risks of sudden infant death syndrome. Other recommendations include: avoiding bed-sharing; use of crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys; using pacifiers; and breastfeeding. But sudden infant death syndrome cases have plateaued at 3,500 unexplained deaths each year in the U.S., prompting the updated advice released Monday.
Noting that sudden infant death syndrome’s risks are highest in the first six months, the academy says room-sharing but not bed-sharing is most likely to prevent suffocation that can occur when infants sleep with their parents.
“Placing the crib close to the parents’ bed so that the infant is within view and reach can facilitate feeding, comforting and monitoring of the infant,” the academy said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.