By:  Karen Sullen

Despite the information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many parents still put their babies at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Reportedly, more than 30% of the women participating in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, a federal program that assists low-income families, allow their children to sleep in the same bed with them, despite the increased risk of SIDS, according to a recent study of over 700 women.  

How does bed-sharing increase the risk of SIDS?  

It is unclear as to whether there is a direct link between bed-sharing and SIDS.  But when a baby sleeps in the same bed as the parent, the child becomes susceptible to certain indirect risk factors, such as sleeping on soft surfaces or using multiple loose blankets that can suffocate the child.  Since 1992, the AAP has recommended that children up to 8 months old sleep in the same room but not in the same bed as the parent.  

Safeguard the health of your baby by following these AAP guidelines:

  • Use a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and a fitted sheet.  Bumper pads should be firm, thin, well secured, and not "pillow soft."
  • Always put baby to sleep on his back.  Giving your baby plenty of "tummy time" when he or she is awake will help strengthen neck muscles and avoid flat spots on his head.
  • Chairs, sofas, water beds, cushions, or sheepskins are not recommended surfaces for baby to sleep on.
  • For infants up to 8 months, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep, but not in your bed.
  • Tuck blankets in around the crib mattress, but only up to the baby's chest. Sleep sacks and lightweight sleep clothing are great blanket alternatives to avoid the risk of overheating.
  • Keep pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and stuffed toys out of your baby's crib so they won't cover the baby's face while sleeping.
  • Stop smoking.  Don't smoke during pregnancy, and eliminate second-hand smoke, which puts infants at higher risk of SIDS.
  • Pacifiers may help reduce the risk of SIDS. But don't force it if the baby doesn't want it.  

    Also, beware of products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.  Most have not been tested for safety and none have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.