Most parents are well-aware that putting babies on their back to sleep is the safest position to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But it seems the decades-long “Back to Sleep” campaign hasn’t hit home for many parents who are still placing their babies in unsafe positions to sleep.
HealthDay reports about a new study published in the journal Pediatrics that suggests almost all of the parent participants did something to increase the risk of their babies developing SIDS. Parents involved in the study were monitored with video cameras when they put their babies to bed. They were aware of the cameras and almost all of them placed items in the crib with their infants like pillows, bumper pads, and loose bedding even though it is known that these extras can increase baby’s risk.
Up to one-third of the babies involved in the study were placed on their bellies or sides rather than on their backs to go to sleep. Senior researcher involved in the study Dr. Ian Paul explains some of the reasons for this, “One could be parents' lack of knowledge. One could be parents thinking this [SIDS] won't happen to them. And then there's the fact that parents of young infants are exhausted.” The exhaustion factor makes sense since many babies may sleep more soundly on their stomach or side and parents in a sleep-deprived haze think they might get a little extra rest if they let them nap this way for a while. This may also be a reason parents ignore safety warnings and decide to put baby in bed with them, in an effort for everyone to get a little extra sleep.
The study looked in on parents when their babies were 1 month old, 3 months and then finally at 6 months old. Parents were most likely to put babies on their back to sleep (about 86%) when they were 1 month old - but this age group was also the most likely to sleep in bed with parents at some point during the night probably to make those midnight feedings a little easier. By the time the babies were 6 months old about one third of parents were putting them to sleep on their tummies or sides and 91% were adding unsafe items to the crib.
And even though we are all well-aware of the warnings, it seems that we are inundated with mixed messages every time we go shopping. If you were to go to any baby supply store you would find bumper pads for the crib as well as a slew of sleep positioners to be wedged under baby for a more restful night. Paul admits, “There are lots of confusing messages out there.”
How do you put your baby to bed?
What do you think of the study that suggests parents are ignoring a lot of the SIDS risk warnings and putting babies to sleep in unsafe positions?