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Blankets can kill your baby

January 26, 2015

Putting your baby to sleep in unsafe bedding could cost your child his life, but according to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, half of parents are doing just that.

The most common cause of death by injury for infants is unintentional suffocation related to sleep. And the number of children who have died this way has more than doubled over the past decade. It is well-known within the medical community that the use of blankets, pillows or quilts in an infant’s sleep environment puts the child at risk for suffocation, however more than 50% of parents report having used these types of unsafe bedding within the last two weeks.

What can explain why parents are continuing to use unsafe bedding despite the risks? Perhaps it comes down to a lack of clear communication. We are bombarded in every type of medium- television, magazines, and online- with differing opinions about how we should put our infants to bed. And then there’s the influence of our friends and family. Have you ever heard your mother say something like, “This is the way we did it when you were little, and you turned out just fine”? Everybody has a convincing argument, and it becomes difficult to know which voices to listen to.

Here’s the thing, though. When our parents were having children, we didn’t know how many lives could be saved by changing the environment in which babies slept. When they wrapped their babies up in thick blankets and laid their head on a soft pillow, we didn’t know it was putting the baby at risk. It seemed like the loving, nurturing way to care for a baby. But now we do know the risk, and when we know better, we do better.

How to keep your baby safe during sleep

  • Place your infant in a crib or bassinet that is in the same room with you but not sharing a sleep surface with you.
  • Keep the crib or bassinet free of blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, toys, quilts, wedges, sleep positioners, and stuffed animals.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. See the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for more information on crib safety.
  • Loose bedding of any kind (such as sheets and blankets) should not be used. Wearable blankets and sleep sacks are safer alternatives.
  • Always place your baby on its back to sleep, during naps and at nighttime.
  • Know that positioning your baby on its side is just as dangerous placing them on their tummy, as they can easily roll from their side to tummy.
  • Never place your child to sleep on an adult bed, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows or cushions
  • Communicate these safety recommendations to all caregivers who will be caring for the child.
If this were a terrible disease taking our children from us, we would demand to know why. We would raise money for a cure. We would fight the injustice of precious lives lost too soon. The sad truth is that we know why these children are dying, and we know that many of these deaths are preventable.

Don’t let your child be the victim of a senseless tragedy. Put your baby to sleep safely.