bare, boring,  basicWe’ve known for several years that a crowded bed and a decorated crib (pillows, quilts, stuffed animals, bumpers) can put babies at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and unintentional sleep-related suffocation. Boring, bare and basic beds are still best for babies. Tell every mother, father and grandparent to an infant you know. A Pediatrics study out today shows hazardous, soft bedding is still being used by as many as 50% of US parents despite years of public health messages urging the opposite. I see where these numbers come from– we parents love to dote on our babies. We instinctively provide warmth and coziness to our babies all day so images of abundant bedding at nighttime can look divine. Further, our families (mothers or mothers-in-law!), coworkers and neighbors may encourage soft bedding because of old habits; many feel warmer bedding is better. However when it comes to the crib, our instincts may deter us from providing the safest sleep. As friends, parents, relatives and co-workers we have to support new parents in creating a basic, boring, and bare crib. Our responsibility extends from our own home to the workplace and to our neighborhood — what we buy and hand-down for that baby showers matters! The study out today reminds us we have lots of work to do, especially as data finds some groups of parents may be at more risk for using the soft stuff…

Soft Bedding Increases Risk

Several studies around the world dating back to the 1990’s have found SIDS risk increases with soft, loose bedding. This includes blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, quilts and similar materials either covering/on top of or underneath the infant. Read more about risk modes for SIDS, and why I hate sleep positioners. What we know: data in the early 1990’s was so compelling that in 1996 the AAP began recommending that infants sleep in firm, stark bedding environments on their back. The great news is that parents took notice of the “back to sleep” campaign and there was a sharp decline in the use of bedding in the 1990’s. Between 200-2010 the progress slowed. More from the study about moms and babies at risk:

Pediatrics Study

  • Phone interviews from 1993 to 2010 found that bedding use (blankets, pillows, quilts, similar materials under or covering infant) declined overall:
    • 1993 -1995: 85.9%
    • 2008 -2010: 54.7%
  • More than half of parents are still using incorrect bedding (thick blankets [37%], blankets under baby [29%]). Soft bedding use was more prevalent in minorities, teenage mothers & lower education levels (although it should be noted young moms were underrepresented in the study while white, higher-educated and older mothers were overrepresented). Lowest use of soft bedding was in college-educated moms while the highest use was in teen moms. Although it must be noted that study authors stated,  “1/2 of college-educated mothers put their infants to bed with some type of bedding.”
  • Increase in unintentional sleep-related suffocation

    bedding graph

    •  7/100,000 live births in 2000
    • 15.9/100,000 live births in 2010
  • Decrease in rate of SIDS
    • 66.3/100,000 live births in 2000
    • 52.7/100,000 live births in 2010
  • In 70% of deaths from SIDS or unintentional sleep-related suffocation infants were on a surface not intended for infant sleep (i.e. parents bed, floor with a rug).

Boring, Bare, Basic Bedding Best For Babies

  • Control the temptation of “warmth & safety”and softness
    • Avoid soft bedding, sleep positioners, bumpers (even the mesh ones!) stuffed animals, pillows and thick blankets both over & under the baby
  • Back to sleep is still best
    • Always put babies to sleep on their back. Since the 1990’s SIDS deaths have been cut in half with recommendation of back sleeping and sleeping without soft bedding
  • Keep it cool
    • Ideal temperature for sleeping infants is 65-68 degrees. No need to crank the thermostat at night, even during the cool winter.
  • Learn from Finland — no need for fancy crib during early infancy
    • Finland offers expectant families “baby box” or a “maternity packages” which include safe sleeping sacks (as opposed to blankets). It all comes in a box that is meant to be used as the baby’s first bassinet! Set new parents up for success.