As childcare providers and caregivers your days are filled with a lot of activities from feeding to playing, diaper changes to cuddles. One of the best things that you can give the babies you care for is a safe sleeping environment. A safe sleep environment is key to preventing suffocations, wedging, or rollover accidents while the baby sleeps. As a childcare provider or caregiver, here a few steps you can take to make sure you have a safe sleep environment for the babies:
- Follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep.
- Provide training for staff on safe sleep practices and information regarding SUIDs and SIDS.
- Write a safe sleep policy for your childcare center.
- Display safe sleep materials in your childcare center.
- Share safe sleep materials with parents.
- Become a Safe Sleep Champion.
Every year Mississippi loses healthy babies to preventable sleep related accidents.
As a leader, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your congregation knows how to keep its babies safe during sleep times.
- Display Safe sleep materials in your church and the nursery.
- Provide training for nursery workers on safe sleep practices and provide handouts to parents
- Provide support to families who have loss an infant due to SUIDS.
- Pray over families with infants and grieving families who may have lost their babies.
- Become a Safe Sleep Champion.
Each year, more than 50 infants die from Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) during sleep in Mississippi.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SIDS?
SIDS stands for “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” and is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation. This investigation includes performing a complete autopsy, examining the death scene, and reviewing the clinical history.
When a baby dies, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, and communities try to find out why. They ask questions, examine the baby, gather information, and run tests. If they can’t find a cause for the death, and if the baby was younger than 1 year old, the medical examiner or coroner may call the death SIDS.
What is SUID?
SUID stands for “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.” SUID is defined as deaths in infants younger than 1 year of age that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious prior to investigation.
SUID includes all unexpected deaths: those from a known cause, and those from unknown causes. SIDS and suffocation are both types of SUID. About one-half of all SUID cases are SIDS. Many unexpected infant deaths are accidents, but a disease or something done on purpose can also cause a baby to die suddenly or unexpectedly. For some SUID, a cause is never found.
How old are babies who die from SIDS?
The majority (90%) of SIDS deaths occur before a baby reaches 6 months of age, and the number of SIDS deaths peaks between 1 month and 4 months of age. However SIDS deaths can occur anytime during a baby’s first year, so parents should still follow safe sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS until their baby’s first birthday.
What is the best way to reduce baby's risk for SIDS?
The best way to reduce the risk for SIDS is to always place baby on his or her back for all sleep times in a separate sleep area, designed for a baby, with no soft objects, toys, or loose bedding.
Why should I place my baby on his or her back to sleep?
Research shows that the back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS.
Research also shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. The back sleep position makes it easier for babies to look around the room and to move their arms and legs.
Remember: Babies sleep safest on their backs, and every sleep time counts!
What if I fall asleep while feeding my baby?
Research shows that it is less dangerous to fall asleep with an infant in an adult bed than on a sofa or armchair. Before you start feeding your baby, think about how tired you are. If there’s even a slight chance you might fall asleep while feeding, avoid couches and armchairs. These surfaces can be very dangerous places for babies, especially when adults fall asleep with infants while on them. If you think you might fall asleep while feeding your baby in an adult bed, remove all soft items and bedding from the bed before you start feeding to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, and other sleep-related causes of death.
Will my baby choke if placed on the back to sleep?
No. Healthy babies naturally swallow or cough up fluids—it’s a reflex all people have. Babies may actually clear such fluids better when sleeping on their backs because of the location of the opening to the lungs in relation to the opening to the stomach. There has been no increase in choking or similar problems for babies who sleep on their backs.
When the baby is in the back sleep position, the trachea (tube to the lungs) lies on top of the esophagus (tube to the stomach). Anything regurgitated or refluxed from the stomach through the esophagus has to work against gravity to enter the trachea and cause choking. When the baby is sleeping on its stomach, such fluids will exit the esophagus and pool at the opening for the trachea, making choking much more likely.
Cases of fatal choking are very rare except when related to a medical condition. The number of fatal choking deaths has not increased since back sleeping recommendations began. In most of the few reported cases of fatal choking, an infant was sleeping on his or her stomach.
What if my baby can't get used to sleeping on his or her back?
The baby’s comfort is important, but safety is more important. Parents and caregivers should place babies on their backs to sleep even if they seem less comfortable or sleep more lightly than when on their stomachs.
A baby who wakes frequently during the night is actually normal and should not be viewed as a “poor sleeper.”
Some babies don’t like sleeping on their backs at first, but most get used to it quickly. The earlier you start placing your baby on his or her back to sleep, the more quickly your baby will adjust to the position.
Is it okay if my baby sleeps on his or her side?
No. Babies placed to sleep on their sides are at increased risk for SIDS. For this reason, babies should sleep fully on their backs for naps and at night to reduce the risk of SIDS.
I saw a product that said it could prevent SIDS and keep my baby in the right position during sleep. Can I use it to prevent SIDS?
There is currently no known way to prevent SIDS, nor are there any products that can prevent SIDS. Evidence does not support the safety or effectiveness of wedges, positioners, or other products that claim to keep infants in a specific position or to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, or reflux. In fact, many of these products are associated with injury and death, especially when used in baby’s sleep area.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other organizations warn against using these products because of the dangers they pose to babies. Avoid products that go against safe sleep recommendations, especially those that claim to prevent or reduce the risk of SIDS.
If my baby rolls onto his or her stomach during sleep, do I need to put my baby in the back sleep position again?
p>No. Rolling over is an important and natural part of your baby’s growth. Most babies start rolling over on their own around 4 to 6 months of age. If your baby rolls over on his or her own during sleep, you do not need to turn the baby back over onto his or her back. The important thing is that your baby start every sleep time on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS, and that there is no soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby’s sleep area.
Why shouldn't I use crib bumpers in my baby's sleep area?
Bumper pads and similar products that attach to crib slats or sides are often used with the intent of protecting infants from injury. However, evidence does not support using crib bumpers to prevent injury. In fact, crib bumpers can cause serious injuries or death. Keeping them out of your baby’s sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.
Before crib safety was regulated, the spacing between the slats of the crib sides could be any width, which posed a danger to infants if they were too wide. Parents and caregivers used padded crib bumpers to protect infants. Now that cribs must meet safety standards, the slats don’t pose the same dangers. As a result, the bumpers are no longer needed.
Are there times when my baby should be on his or her stomach?
Yes, your baby should have plenty of Tummy Time when he or she is awake and when someone is watching. Supervised Tummy Time helps strengthen your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles, build motor skills, and prevent flat spots on the back of the head.
Will my baby get flat spots on the back of the head from sleeping on his or her back?
Pressure on the same part of the baby’s head can cause flat spots if babies are laid down in the same position too often or for too long a time. Such flat spots are usually not dangerous and typically go away on their own once the baby starts sitting up. The flat spots also are not linked to long-term problems with head shape. Making sure your baby gets enough Tummy Time is one way to help prevent these flat spots. Limiting the time spent in car seats, once the baby is out of the car, and changing the direction the infant lays in the sleep area from week to week also can help to prevent these flat spots. Check out the other things parents and caregivers can do to prevent flat spots on the back of the head. Visit the Other Ways To Help Prevent Flat Spots on Baby’s Head section of the website for more information.