The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) have said that babies should share their parents’ bedroom for at least six months and optimally the first year of life to help prevent the risks of “sleep-related deaths”.
The advice, which has been published in SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, re-iterates their 2011 guidelines about putting babies to sleep on their back.
The report also includes new evidence that supports skin-to-skin care, addresses the use of bedside and in-bed sleepers, and adds to recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment.
“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” said Rachel Moon, lead author of the report.
“Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous.”
Breastfeeding is also recommended as adding protection against SIDS and, after feeding, the AAP encourages parents to move the baby to his or her separate sleeping space, preferably a crib or bassinet in the parents’ bedroom.
“If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” said Lori Feldman-Winter, co-author of the report.
“If you do fall asleep, as soon as you wake up be sure to move the baby to his or her own bed.
“There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items that could obstruct the infant’s breathing or cause overheating.”
They also recommend infants sleep on a separate surface such as a crib or bassinet and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface.
Parents are also advised to avoid the use of soft bedding, and to avoid exposing the baby to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.