Letter to Parents: Safe to Sleep

Dear parents, grandparents and childcare workers,

I have an important announcement to make:  Back to Sleep is now Safe to Sleep.  So KristieClarkblog pic1what is the difference you ask?  Back to Sleep sounds so nice, as every sleep deprived Mom hopes to get her newborn exactly that: back to sleep at night, and Back to Sleep is so descriptive since we are recommending that babies sleep on their back in order to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  SIDS is still he leading cause of death in Infants with about 2,000 babies in the U.S. a year dying from SIDS.  We do not know exactly why SIDS occurs but we do know the risk factors associated with SIDS.  We also know that infant deaths from SIDS have reduced drastically since we began recommending that babies sleep on their back.  So, why change the campaign name from Back to Sleep to Safe to Sleep?  The change comes because there is more to safe sleep than putting a newborn on their back to sleep.  The following recommendations can be found at the website www.nichd.nih.gov/sts :

A safe sleep environment for a baby includes:

  • A firm sleep surface
  • Sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper or sleep sack
  • A sleeping area in the same room as you

A sleep environment for a baby should not include:

  • Pillows, blankets, sheepskins, crib bumpers or stuffed animals
  • Smoke from tobacco or marijuana cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, bongs, hookahs or pipes
  • Sleeping in a chair, couch or adult bed

The website www.safesleepkansas.org  has the easy to remember ABC’s of Safe Sleep (as well as videos in English and Spanish):

Babies are safest when they are:

  • Alone
  • On their back
  • In a crib

Don’t forget, though, that babies do need tummy time to help them develop.  I call these “baby push-ups” and should be done for 3-5 minutes a day 2-3 times a day under direct supervision while the baby is awake and alert.

For parents and caregivers desiring smoking cessation, there are more resources now than ever before.  Talk to your health care provider about your options or call the quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit one of the following awesome websites:  www.ksquit.org, www.kssmokefree.org or www.kanquit.org

Further information about Safe to Sleep and SIDS can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:  www.cdc.gov/sids/Parents-Caregivers.htm

One final word of caution for new parents: Grandmothers might be from the age of placing sleeping babies on their tummies.  In fact, you and your siblings likely survived your babyhood sleeping on your tummy.  Grandmother might have placed a baby thousands of times on her tummy, and she survived just fine.  Remember that old habits are hard to break.  Please share this information with Grandparents and other caregivers, and tell them that a Pediatrician asked you to do so.  These Safe to Sleep recommendations are based on the risk factors that we know increase a baby’s chance of dying form SIDS.  We know that following these recommendations does save the lives of many babies.

Thank you,

Kristie Clark M.D.
Board Certified Pediatrician

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