As strange as it may seem in today’s advanced society, the rate of newborns being accidentally suffocated is increasing with each passing year. Many new parents are opting to sleep with their newborn children for a myriad of reasons. Some believe that the child will bond with them easier if they sleep together, some are just too tired to get up every few hours to breastfeed and that it encourages breastfeeding during the evening hours, and some believe it helps the baby to fall asleep faster.
While some of these beliefs are true, it does not mean that it is a safe thing to do for a newborn baby. People who are sound sleepers can easily roll over onto an infant and smother them with their body weight without even realizing they are doing so. Taking medications can cause a person to sleep more deeply that they might otherwise, with the same consequences. Drinking before bed is another way to put the newborn in harm’s way; a drinker can snore louder than a baby can cry.
A baby can also suffocate from fluffy pillows or blankets. Remember that a newborn is unable to move their own head so an adult moving in the bed could cause a blanket or pillow to become pushed into the newborn’s face. Babies can become overheated and die very easily if there are too many blankets on the bed. An infant can easily become trapped in between a head or foot board on the bed and be crushed.
Those who smoke should never sleep with an infant as the chemicals used in cigarettes linger in the air and on surfaces; an infant should only sleep in a room that is completely smoke free.
The recommended way for a baby to sleep is on a firm mattress with a tight fitted sheet, no blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals allowed. They should be placed into a sleep sack type of garment with feet for warmth, and placed on their backs. Placing an infant on their stomach without constant supervision can cause SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A newborn cannot turn itself over or lift its head, so this is another cause of suffocation.
If a parent must sleep in the same room as their infant a bassinet next to the adult bed, or a bed that is referred to as a “co-sleeper” can be placed next to the adult bed. A co-sleeper is perfect for those who wish to breastfeed through the night but do not want to get out of bed. It causes less disruption in the sleep cycle of both the infant and its mother.
Sleeping with a newborn seems like a perfectly natural thing to do, but the risks must be taken into consideration. There are many tragic stories of a grandmother rolling on top of a newborn, or a newborn falling off of the adult bed and suffering internal injuries. The health and well being of the newborn should be of the utmost consideration, not the convenience of the adult.