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New Sleep Guidance From the AAP Has a VERY Strong Stance on Co-Sleeping & Crib Decor

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a strong warning about sleep-related deaths. The association, which was developed around the health and well-being of children, released their 2022 updated sleep guidelines for babies, which states that co-sleeping and placing items in a crib can lead to “increased risk” of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and suffocation.

AAP recommends that parents put their babies to sleep on a firm, flat, non-inclined surface with a fitted sheet and no other bedding or objects, which will reduce “the risk of suffocation or wedging or entrapment.” Also important to note: avoid placing sleeping infants on adult-sized beds or mattresses because it can lead to entrapment and suffocation, as well.

Co-sleeping is not recommended “under any circumstances.” Instead, the AAP suggests that the infant sleep in the parents’ room, on a separate surface, for at least the first six months. “With regard to SIDS specifically, 90% of cases occur before an infant reaches the age of 6 months,” the association explained.

While they understand that co-sleeping might be considered for a number of reasons, including efficient breastfeeding and cultural traditions, the AAP noted that parents can have just as easy access to soothing, feeding or attending to their baby’s needs from the same room. “Bed sharing can occur unintentionally if parents fall asleep while feeding their infant or at times when parents are particularly tired, or infants are fussy,” the report added. “Evidence suggests that it is relatively less hazardous (but still not recommended) to fall asleep with the infant in the adult bed than on a sofa or armchair, should the parent fall asleep.”

AAP noted that a “large percentage” of infants who died of SIDS were found with bedding over their head. Parents are advised against using any pillows, sheets, blankets, pets or miscellaneous objects that might cause breathing obstruction in the crib.

There’s a reason to have hope about SIDS, though. A recent study in the journal EBioMedicine, released in May 2022, offered preliminary research on why infants may die from the syndrome — and it has to do with enzymes. The authors found that the enzyme levels of 67 infants who died of SIDS were, on average, 73 percent as high as in children who died for other reasons.

“I would love for this to be true,” Jose Javier Otero, MD, PhD, associate professor and director of neuropathology at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, told The Washington Post in response to the study. “It’s what everybody would like to have: something simple you can test in the blood. That’s why it’s exciting. But whether or not it’s true is very much up in the air.”

Hopefully we’ll learn more and more about SIDS as time goes on. Until we have conclusive answers, it’s definitely important to follow the AAP guidelines.

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