New York Neonatologist Shares Simple Steps to Protect and Keep Your Baby Safe

Posted on: March 11, 2013

Sound, Safe Sleep for Baby

By Dr. Rick Stafford, Chief and Director of Neonatology, Northern Westchester Hospital

The moment of departure from the hospital with your newborn baby can leave you with mixed feelings: Joy, wonder, and perhaps more than a little trepidation. Good guidance from the hospital staff can help temper any worries, and that’s especially true when it comes to setting up your baby’s bed. Ensuring your child is in the safest possible sleeping environment is very important.

SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is a primary concern for new parents. The good news is that since 1992, when research concluded that the safest sleeping position for babies was on the back, the incidence of SIDS has dropped dramatically. However, it’s still unclear as to what all of the possible causes may be.

Fortunately, researchers are learning more and more about preventing SIDS. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, you can help keep your baby safe by remembering your ABCs:
“A” stands for “alone.” Your newborn should sleep in his or her own crib. Although many parents may want to bring the baby into a family bed, says Dr. Stafford, the science shows that doing so raises the risk of SIDS.
“B” stands for “back.” Lay your drowsy or dozing baby face up in the crib to help insure that airways stay open and nothing blocks breathing.
“C” stands for “clear.” Keep the crib free of clutter like stuffed animals, toys, soft bedding, blankets, and pillows.  Crib bumpers are also NOT recommended now as they may pose a suffocation hazard.

If you have a moment, watch this video illustrating the ABCs of Safe Sleeping.

Other ways to help protect your baby include breastfeeding and regular immunizations. The research is very clear that breastfeeding decreases the risk of SIDS. Staying current on immunizations will also help prevent illnesses that can impair the child’s breathing. Smokers take note: Now is the time to kick the habit, because a smoke-free household also protects the baby. The research also shows that SIDS risk is markedly increased in smoking households.

Finally, be sure to educate all caretakers—nannies, grandparents, etc.—about the baby’s sleep needs. If you meet resistance, just make it clear that in this situation, mother and father definitely know best.

Learn about having your baby at Northern Westchester Hospital—visit NWH also offers a variety of classes such as Caring for Your Newborn, Breastfeeding, and even a class and hospital tour for siblings.

Editor’s Note: Rick Stafford, MD is Chief and Director of Neonatology at Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco, NY. Learn more about our Level III Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).