New study highlights need for infant safe sleep education in non-parents

April 3, 2018

A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics compares the sleep-related risk factors for infants under the supervision of parents vs. other individuals and details the characteristics of children who died of sleep-related causes under non-parental supervision.  Reviewing sleep-related infant deaths from 2004 to 2014, it was found that 13% of these deaths happened under non-parental supervision.  These infants had a higher occurrence of dying outside the home and being placed or found lying on their stomach or side.  Non-parents, including relatives or friends, were more likely to have the child sleep in an unsafe environment, such as a couch or car seat, instead of a crib or bassinet.  Parents were more likely to engage in risky bed-sharing with infants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs for all sleep times, including naps, and that the baby should have a firm sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinet that meets safety standards, and should never be placed on a couch, chair or other soft surfaces, including sharing a bed with an adult. 

The study highlights the need to ensure that all caregivers, including parents, family members, friends, or babysitters, should be informed of safe sleep practices for infants in order to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to unsafe sleep practices.