Babies Sleep Safest in Their Own Beds
In addition, Kemp says, "Parents should not fall asleep on couches or chairs with their infants, or sleep in the same bed with the infant if they use blankets or pillows. And always put infants on their back to sleep."
Experts agree that intensifying the public health message to parents, guardians, and day care providers about safe sleep is crucial. Still, the issue remains controversial because many parents and organizations encourage bonding in bed with the baby.
"I love the thought of [bedsharing] with a baby," McEntire says. But to safely bond with baby, she suggests that parents "take the baby in the bed to cuddle; then, before you or the baby goes to sleep, place him in a safe bed."
Andrew H. Urbach, MD, believes the "back-to-sleep" message has become increasingly clear over time, despite the controversy. "All [experts] now recommend babies be placed on their backs for sleep," he tells WebMD. "And bedsharing is a behavior I personally discourage and many pediatricians do, too. Still, it's controversial. At one time, sharing a bed is how we lived and how we slept, with our children next to us." But that's definitely a practice to be questioned now, because of the substantial risk of SIDS, says Urbach, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
"We've got to get the message out to all parents and caregivers," McEntire says. "If 3,000 adults were dying each year and we didn't know why, it would be in the paper every day. We've been successful in having fewer and fewer infants die, but ... this last part of the road to find the cause and prevention of SIDS is going to be toughest," she adds.
For more information, call 1-800-232-SIDS or visit www.SIDS.org.