Losing a child is one of the most horrifying things that can happen to any parent. For me, specifically, the thought of something happening to one of my children, while I was sleeping, made me feel helpless. To put my mind at ease, I purchased a bassinet so my baby could sleep in our room. I read everything I could about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but still wondered, can SIDS happen in a bassinet? What can I say, worrying seems to be part of the whole parenting thing.
First off, it's important to understand what SIDS actually is. According to the Mayo Clinic and their website, "sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old." The site further explains that "although the cause is unknown, it appears that SIDS may be associated with abnormalities in the portion of an infant's brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep." For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your baby sleep in the same room with you (which is called co-sleeping), but not in the same bed (which is called bed-sharing), for their first year of your baby's life, which can make monitoring them and feeding them throughout the night much easier.
Unfortunately, according the National Institutes Institute of Health and Human Development (NIH), because there's no way to prevent SIDS it can happen anywhere, including a bassinet. There are, however, steps that parents and caregivers can take to reduce their baby's risk of SIDS and create a safe sleep environment. According to the AAP, the safest place for an infant to sleep is on their backs on a separate sleep surface designed for infants. For many parents, including me, a bassinet was just what the doctor ordered to fit space and budget constraints.
So, what should you look for in a bassinet? First of all, the AAP cautions parents against buying used bassinets, as they may no longer meet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or may have missing parts. In addition, parents and caregivers should check the CPSC website to see if a used bassinet has been recalled before using it with their child. They recommend that your bassinet have a firm mattress and include no bedding (except a fitted sheet) and no soft toys or bumpers to reduce the risk of suffocation. Also, a bassinet should only be used until your baby can roll over or pull themselves up to standing or exceeds the weight limit.
Other recommendations for creating a safe sleep environment from the NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign include not smoking near your baby's sleep space and using a sleep sack or wearable blanket in place of extra bedding, like additional sheets or blankets. While it's impossible to 100 percent prevent SIDS, and new parents are never going to stop worrying about it, following safe sleep guidelines might just help all of us new parents rest a bit easier.