Health Notes

New Guidelines Hope to Save Babies from SIDS

by Dr. Emily Bendlin on November 22, 2016

There are new guidelines every new parent should know about when it comes to keeping their infants safe from sudden infant death syndrome(SIDS).

Currently, more than 3,500 infants die each year from sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. And while those numbers are alarming, they aren’t climbing, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to keep them from doing so.

That’s why the AAP recently released updates on its recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. These changes to their now 13-year old Safe to Sleep campaign hope to improve the great strides already made when it comes to saving babies’ lives.

The list of recommendations makes four important changes:

1. It clearly defines guidelines on room sharing. During the Safe to Sleep campaign, pediatricians recommended that parents share their bedrooms – not their beds – with their infants. It didn’t define how long they recommended doing so. The new guidelines say children should sleep close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months. Evidence shows that this can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

2. It does not support or denounce SIDS prevention products. The new guidelines state there is no evidence these products are effective in reducing the risk of SIDs, or that they are safe.  I tell parents to simply be wary of products that claim to prevent SIDS, such as specialty crib mattresses or wedges. If you decide to purchase any of these products, make sure they comply with crib safety standards. You can do so by visiting the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s website at

3. It says to avoid placing a sleeping baby in a couch or armchair. Research shows there’s an “extraordinarily high risk” of infant death for a baby sleeping in a couch or armchair. The risk includes the infant becoming wedged in cushions or being smothered by another person.

4. It warns against putting any objects in an infant’s sleep area. Bumper pads and pillows may seem like a good idea to keep kids from hurting themselves on the hard crib surfaces, but the truth is they carry a higher risk of causing airway obstruction.

Dr. Emily Bendlin
Emily Bendlin, MD

The entire list of recommendations from the AAP offers more in-depth information on safe sleeping for infants. But what I want you to keep in mind are the ABCs of safe sleeping:

A – Baby sleeps ALONE.

B – Baby sleeps on his or her BACK

C – Baby sleeps in a CRIB free of CLUTTER

If you have questions about how to help keep baby safe in bed, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician.

SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

1. Back to sleep for every sleep.

2. Use a firm sleep surface.

3. Breastfeeding is recommended.

4. It is recommended that infants sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months.

5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from the infant’s sleep area to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation.

6. Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.

7. Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth.

8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.

10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.

11. Infants should be immunized in accordance with recommendations of the AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

12. Avoid the use of commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations.

13. Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.

14. Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended to facilitate development and to minimize development of positional plagiocephaly.

15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.

16. Health care professionals, staff in newborn nurseries and NICUs, and child care providers should endorse and model the SIDS risk-reduction recommendations from birth.

17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in their messaging and advertising.

18. Continue the “Safe to Sleep” campaign, focusing on ways to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS, suffocation, and other unintentional deaths. Pediatricians and other primary care providers should actively participate in this campaign.

19. Continue research and surveillance on the risk factors, causes, and pathophysiologic mechanisms of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, with the ultimate goal of eliminating these deaths altogether.


Dr. Emily Bendlin is a pediatrician now seeing patients at
Methodist Physicians Clinic Hawthorne Court.
Contact Dr. Bendlin at
Dr. Emily Bendlin


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