On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated recommendations on preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known more commonly by its acronym, SIDS: Specifically, the AAP recommends that parents should share a room with their infant to prevent SIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent classifies SIDS as part of a broader category of deaths known as Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.
A syndrome with causes not completely understood by doctors and researchers, SUID kills as many as 3,500 children each year, most typically infants 12 months old or younger. Of those 3,500 deaths, the CDC classifies them into three types: 44 percent are attributed specifically to SIDS, while 31 percent happen due to unknown causes. The remaining quarter of deaths are attributed to accidental strangling or suffocation in bed.
In this new report, the AAP statement reads that infants should room share with their parents or caregivers for at least the first six months, although ideally, room sharing should continue through infants' first year. The important distinction in this updated recommendation is that baby should only sleep in the same room — but not on the same sleep surface — as their parents. The new report notes that the risk of SIDS decreases as much as 50 percent when room sharing occurs.
The updated recommendations, presented Monday at the AAP National Conference in San Francisco, California, come during National SIDS Awareness Month, and are the second such update since the AAP first made its recommendations in 1992 that babies should be placed on their backs to prevent SIDS. Since that recommendation in 1992, the number of deaths related to SIDS has declined. In 2011, the AAP expanded its guidelines beyond just SIDS to reflect safe sleep environments; these recommendations covered everything from sleep surfaces and bed-sharing to breastfeeding and pacifier use.
Here are the most important guidelines and recommendations parents need to know about how to prevent SIDS from impacting their families, according to the CDC and the AAP:
- Always place baby on their backs when putting baby down for sleep, no matter when they sleep.
- Use safety-approved cribs with firm sleep surfaces, covered with a tightly fitted crib sheet.
- Do no place any soft objects in the crib with baby, including loose blankets, pillows, toys, or crib bumpers.
- Do not smoke around your baby.
- Co-sleeping is not recommended.
- New: Babies should room share with parents for at least the first six months and up to one year.
While it can feel overwhelming for both new and seasoned parents to keep up with what's best for baby, these updated recommendations for SIDS prevention aim to keep SIDS from affecting any family.