Good Habits to Keep a Baby Safe During Sleep

The death of a baby is a tragedy that no one should have to experience. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,600 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) in 2017. 

The three main causes of SUID are, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), unknown causes, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.  With guidance, parents and caregivers can learn the skills required to put an infant down to sleep safely.

While many risk factors for SUID are unknown, research shows that some behaviors can help keep babies safe.

  • Avoid sharing a bed with your infant. Bedsharing, the practice in which a mother and newborn child share a bed, is particularly dangerous for infants less than three months of age and puts babies at a five times greater risk for SIDS or accidental suffocation. Infants should sleep alone in a crib or bassinet.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS by more than 70 percent when breastfeeding continues for more than six months. Babies who are breastfed have stronger immune systems, less gastrointestinal issues, and better vision. Their mothers also tend to be healthier physically and emotionally.

South Shore Hospital, part of South Shore Health, is working to educate new parents on safe sleep and breastfeeding, to empower them to protect their baby by practicing safe sleep habits, for every sleep after taking their baby home.

We are one of four Massachusetts health care organizations that has committed to a nationwide initiative to improve the likelihood that infant caregivers and families receive consistent, evidence-based instruction about safe sleep and breastfeeding as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The initiative is led by the National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep Improvement and Innovation Network (NAPPSS-IIN).

This project has the ability to save lives, and I am thrilled that my team and I will be playing an important role in it.

South Shore Health is committed to reaching the following goals by December of 2020: 

  • Strengthen our safe sleep practices for all newborns cared for in our hospital through compliance with:
    • Positioning every baby on their back to sleep
    • Laying infants in a flat crib with no incline or positioning devices
  • Eliminating toys, comforters or fluffy blankets from the sleep environment.
  • Improve our exclusive breastfeeding rate through the hospital stay with a particular focus on non-Hispanic black mothers and mothers delivering by Cesarean section, as these groups have lower breastfeeding rates, according to breastfeeding data.

By working as one with new patients, we can reduce the number of Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths, saving many families from preventable tragedy.

More information on Pregnancy & Childbirth is on the South Shore Health website.