Though it sounds like the easiest advice in the world to follow: Don't put anything in the crib with your baby, a new study finds many educated parents are still tucking their infants in with loose bedding that can strangle or smother them.
Researchers videotaped 160 Pennsylvania babies ages one, three and six months as they slept at home each night. And even though their guardians, who were mostly well-educated, married and affluent, were aware that they were being watched, 91% of them still placed one-month-olds in cribs with dangerous bumper pads, sleep positioners, pillows and stuffed animals. And 89% of the three-month-olds and 93% of the six-month-olds also slept with unsafe accessories.
‘Nine out of 10 parents are still tucking their infants in with loose bedding and objects that can strangle or smother them.’
Nearly 14%, 18% and 33% of the one, three and six-month-olds, respectively, were not put to bed on their backs.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned parents for decades to keep little ones off their sides and stomachs at night to prevent sleep-related deaths — the leading killer of babies — many folks still haven't gotten that message, either
Kristin Randazzo, a mother of three from Port St. Lucie, Florida, says her pediatrician didn't tell her to clear the crib or practice "back to sleep" until after her second child. And so her first child slept with a thick blanket and thick crib bumpers. Now her seven-month-old daughter sleeps with a "breathable" mesh bumper and a receiving blanket.
Dr. Ian M. Paul, the lead author on the report, told the Daily News many parents also buy into misinformation from retailers. "Go into any Babies 'R' Us, any of the big box stores selling baby cribs, and you'll see totally unsafe sleep environments marketed with bumper pads and sleep positioners," he said. "So parents are getting mixed messages. They think, 'If Babies 'R' Us is selling it, it must be safe.'"
Another mom told the Daily News that when she was shopping for her first child, every bedding set came with a coordinating bumper. That's why Joseph Shamie, president of crib maker Delta Children, says his company displays its baby beds bare. He is also a safe sleep advocate working with First Candle, a SIDS-prevention non-profit, and leads demos on infant sleep safety.
While sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates have been dropping off since 1990, the rates of accidental suffocation and strangulation of infants in bed has been increasing since the late 90s, according to the CDC, and hit a peak high in 2014.
The researchers noted that some parents add blankets, pillows and bumpers to cribs because they worry about their babies keeping warm or banging their heads. And many of the babies in the study were moved to another location, such as the parents' bed, at some point during the night.