LEWISBURG, TN. — You have just added a new baby to your household. You are happy, excited and probably concerned that while you are asleep, your newborn is in danger of crib death. Marshall Medical Center (MMC) wants you to know how to keep your new bundle of joy safe.
Recent research has shown that the risk of crib death is greatly reduced if babies sleep on their backs. While no one knows for certain why this is the case, some theories have been advanced as credible.
Mattresses may contain microbes that can interfere with the baby’s breathing. Infants sleeping on their stomachs may have their faces so close to the sheets that they do not get enough oxygen. Another theory is that if a mattress is too soft, a baby sleeping on his or her stomach can suffocate as the mattress yields to the baby’s body weight. This is why you should never let a baby sleep on a waterbed. Do not cover the mattress with any plastic covering as this can also lead to suffocation.
When considering your baby’s bed, be sure your baby’s mattress is firm and that the bed is stable. Also make certain the bottom is made of one solid piece of material rather than slats and that bars on the sides of the bed are no more than 2 ½ inches apart and at least 24 inches high so that the baby can’t crawl or climb out or get its head stuck.
Parents should not put toys or other objects in the bed that a baby could get caught in. The baby’s pillow should be light and of suitable size. Do not let the baby have an adult pillow. It is not good for the baby’s back and it also creates another danger of suffocation.
It is good that your baby learns to sleep in his or her own crib but keep your baby sleeping nearby so you can hear any cries of distress. Also be sure your baby is warm but not too hot. Babies should be taken to the doctor for regular checkups. Anytime the baby seems sick or has trouble breathing, take him or her to your doctor or to a clinic.
Smoking around newborns is a major contributing factor to infant crib death. If you smoke, under no circumstances do it around your baby. In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that exposure to tobacco smoke raised the risk of crib death by 3.5 times.
MMC hopes these tips are helpful. Should you have any questions about your newborn’s safety, please do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician’s office. Women’s and children’s services as well as expectant parent classes are available at Maury Regional Medical Center. To learn more, visit mauryregional.com.