Some things never change when it comes to caring for your grandbaby. Cuddle baby, burp baby, bathe and dress baby, rock baby to sleep. But, there is plenty that has changed since you had your own child, especially when it comes to safe sleep practices.
Sleep guidelines are one of the areas that have changed the most from a generation ago.
“We often go to the adage, ‘We know better so we do better,’” said Heather Trnka, Akron Children’s Injury Prevention Coalition supervisor. “There has been a lot of research since 1992 around why babies die in their sleep and what they found out is that there were many controllable factors that came into play. If we eliminate the things that are risky or dangerous to our babies we can reduce many of these deaths.”
Still every week in Ohio, 3 babies die while they’re sleeping. Ohio has one of the highest infant death rates in this country and sleep-related deaths, such as suffocation, strangulation or entrapment, are the most common reason besides prematurity.
The good news is these deaths are preventable. Today, there’s simply more evidence available that proves babies who sleep on their backs carry the lowest risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since the American Academy of Pediatrics’ collaborative “Back to Sleep” campaign to reduce the risk of SIDS began in 1994, the incidence has dropped by more than half.
So for every (grand)baby and every sleep (naps and nighttime), grandparents and other caregivers should follow the safe sleep ABCs: Babies are safest Alone, on their Backs and in an empty Crib.
“Because babies spend up to 16 hours a day asleep in the first few weeks of life, it’s so important to learn everything you can about keeping your grandbaby safe,” said Trnka. “It just might save his life.”
A is for Alone
A baby should have its own sleep space, separate from a grandparent or other caregiver, for every sleep (naps and nighttime). A separate space includes a crib, bassinet or play yard.
- Place your grandbaby to sleep in the same room you sleep, but NOT the same bed or sleep surface.
- Never place your grandbaby to sleep on a couch or armchair.
- Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS, such as wedges, baby positioners or co-sleeping products. They have not been tested to see if they work or if they are safe.
- Keep your grandbaby from overheating during the night. A baby should be dressed lightly for sleep in a T-shirt or onesie. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
B is for Back
Babies that sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides.
- Babies up to 1 year of age should always be placed on their back to sleep during every sleep, at naps and at night.
- Starting sleep on the back is most important for reducing SIDS risk. Once your grandbaby can roll from his back to tummy and tummy to back, there is no need to reposition the baby.
- Your grandbaby will not choke if they spit up. If your grandbaby spits up, it is harder for the spit up to go into the “air pipe” when he is on his back.
C is for empty Crib
Do not place any blankets, toys, stuffed animals, pillows, bumper pads or anything else in the crib because babies can suffocate or get strangled. Soft mattresses or coverings increase a baby’s risk of SIDS.
- Always put babies to sleep in an empty crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that meets current safety standards.
- The bed should be flat with a firm mattress and a tight fitted sheet. Do not put a plastic cover over the mattress.
- Instead of a blanket, use a sleeper or sleep sack if needed.
- Try giving your grandbaby a pacifier at bedtime or naptime that isn’t attached to a string or stuffed animal to help reduce the risk of SIDS.