Pam Jones, RN & Patricia Porrey, CPD
September 4, 2019
We go to enormous lengths to protect our babies from the dangers of the outside world, but sometimes the biggest danger could be in our homes and totally preventable with a few simple precautions.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)1, approximately 3500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). The AAP recommends a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. Recommendations for a safe sleep environment include supine positioning (putting a baby to sleep on its back), the use of a firm sleep surface, room-sharing without bed-sharing, and the avoidance of soft bedding and overheating. Additional recommendations for SIDS reduction include the avoidance of exposure to smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs; breastfeeding; routine immunization and use of a pacifier. The safest sleeping place for an infant is on a separate surface designed for infants, close to the parents’ bed. However, the AAP acknowledges that parents frequently fall asleep while feeding the infant2. Evidence suggests that it is less hazardous to fall asleep with your baby in an adult bed than on a sofa or armchair. It is important to note that a large percentage of infants who die of SIDS are found with their heads covered by bedding. Therefore, there should be no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items on the bed that could obstruct infant breathing or cause overheating. There is evidence that the longer a baby shares the parents’ bed, the higher the risk, so if you fall asleep while feeding in bed, place your baby back on a separate sleep surface as soon as you awaken.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping your baby’s sleep area in your bedroom for the first six months to a year. It can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. Room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby. Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard close to your bed. If you borrow a crib, make sure it was built after 1991, when US safety regulations became mandatory. 3
Falling out of cribs
Each year in the United States, nearly 10,000 children under the age of 2 arrive in emergency rooms with injuries suffered while in cribs, playpens and bassinets, a new report shows. 4
In the report, eminent Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Gary Smith, stated that only around 1 percent of the injuries involved a parent or sibling: “It appears that most of these falls are children climbing out of the crib and falling.” He said.
He also remarked that in most cases, the children landed head-first, which “really makes this an issue that we should pay attention to. Children at that age are top-heavy, so when they fall, they fall head-first and don’t have the ability to break their fall. These injuries can be serious.” He went on to explain that when a child becomes able to pull themselves up, “…you need to lower the height of the mattress in the crib so there is at least 26 inches between the top of the mattress and the top of the rail. And when the child reaches about 35 inches in height he or she should be taken out of the crib and start using a toddler bed”.
In the same study, researchers identified almost 182,000 children under 2 who were treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with these devices. That came to roughly 9,651 such injuries a year. Here are some additional statistics they noted:
- 2 percent of the injuries involved cribs, while playpens accounted for 12.6 percent of the injuries and bassinets accounted for 4.2 percent.
- The most common cause of injury was falling from the crib, playpen or bassinet. These falls accounted for two-thirds of the injuries.
- The head and neck were the areas of the body that were most commonly injured, making up 40.3 percent of the injuries. Most injuries were soft tissue injuries (34.1 percent).
- Kids with fractures were kept in the hospital 14 percent of the time and were more than five times more likely to be admitted than children with other injuries.
Smith believed the findings were a call to action to build better-designed cribs to protect children and make falls less likely.
Since the study, manufacturers have made great strides towards safer crib designs and they are very much improved. However, for peace of mind, nothing beats a proactive approach to safety. We recommend you take advantage of a unique innovation that can safeguard a wandering infant from this hazard. It’s a floor-based inflatable bumper named DreamCatcher from safell.org. DreamCatcher has been through rigorous safety testing. It’s designed to minimize the risk of serious head and neck injuries should a baby fall from its crib. Benefits of the DreamCatcher include:
- Eight segments that conform to any nursery layout and inflate in minutes
- Made from BPA-Free PVC for easy cleaning
- Can be converted to a safe inflatable play environment once the crib is no longer in use
- Fire-retardant and puncture resistant
There really is nothing out there like it on the market. For more information on safe sleep, sleep deprivation help or general parenting advice and guidance, please contact Pam or Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the authors
Patricia Porrey is an author, speaker, and co-founder of Sweet Dreams Infant Care. She has spent the past 10 years working as a certified postpartum doula, parent educator, sleep consultant, and mentor for her team of infant care specialists now assisting families in Chicago and Dallas. She has over 30 years’ experience in corporate America, having several different careers and retiring from AT&T as a Senior Project Manager. Pat serves as a Director on the board of NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Pamela Jones is an author, speaker, registered nurse, sleep consultant, and co-founder of Sweet Dreams Infant Care. For over 25 years, Pam has specialized in postpartum education, healthy sleep education, and neonatal care in some of the top Chicago hospitals. She felt shorter hospital stays and staff reductions due to budget cuts, has resulted in many new parents not getting the individual education and support they need. So, Pam and her sister Pat opened our Baby Nurse agency, Sweet Dreams Infant Care, and wrote their book, “Raising Confident Parents” to help families enjoy this new chapter in their lives.
1 Moon, R.Y. (2016). SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment
Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162940
2 aap.org (2016) American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Safe Sleep recommendations to Protect Against SIDS, Sleep-Related Infant Deaths. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Safe-Sleep-Recommendations-to-Protect-Against-SIDS.aspx
3 www.pediatrics.aappublications.org SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Retrieved from: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162940
4Reinberg, S. (2011) Crib Injuries Land Thousands of Toddlers in ER Each Year. Retrieved from: https://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/emergencies-and-first-aid-news-227/crib-injuries-land-thousands-of-toddlers-in-er-each-year-649997.html