by Heidi Hauser Green
December 21, 2012
It was 20 years ago that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first called for parents and caregivers not to place their babies on their tummies for sleep. Two years later, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) launched its “Back to Sleep” campaign to simplify and spread the message. Since then, the incidence of SIDS has declined dramatically, by more than 50 percent.
In light of this success, and due to increasing awareness about other sleep-related causes of childhood injury and death, the “Back to Sleep” campaign has received a facelift. As the renamed “Safe to Sleep” campaign, this effort looks beyond the baby’s initial sleep position.
Placing healthy babies on their backs to sleep is “the most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of SIDS,” the campaign site asserts, but “Safe to Sleep” strives to raise awareness of “actions that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of other sleep-related causes of infant death, such as suffocation.”
Several leading health and non-profit organizations are involved in this effort. In addition to NICHD and the AAP, partners include the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), First Candle, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs (ASIP).
The campaign makes a variety of educational materials available to health care providers and parents. Its messages for parents and caregivers include:
Probably the most controversial suggestion here is that “Your baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.” Any parent or grandparent who has had a snoozing child drift off to sleep while nursing or fall asleep on their shoulder will wonder about the need for such a rigid mandate. Ultimately, each parent will need to decide what is best for their own family. You can start your research on sleeping arrangements for you and your family here.
Find out more about sleep safety and SIDS elsewhere on baby gooroo.
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