AAP Releases New Guidelines … And Tired Moms Everywhere Rejoice!

Parenting is hard, especially at 2am. Now, doctors are confirming what a lot of us parents already know … sometimes we fall asleep when feeding our babies … and sometimes our babies sleep with us in the bed. They are addressing this and more in a new set of guidelines released this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics {AAP}. And, for the first time, the AAP is recommending mothers spend time in skin to skin contact with newborns.

“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report.  

This is the first update to Academy policy since 2011. {FYI :: The new guidelines don’t contradict anything in the previous version – but they do acknowledge that parenting is exhausting … and we need to do our best to prepare.} The report says babies should sleep in the same room with their caregivers to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome, and the guideline also recommends feeding babies in bed without blankets, pillows, or other soft objects if a caregiver thinks they might fall asleep.  Then, when the caregiver does wake up, they should simply put the baby on its own sleep surface such as a crib, bassinet, or play pen. And of course, they still recommend putting infants to sleep on their backs.

Dr. Samuel Hanke has devoted his life to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome {SIDS} prevention after his infant son Charlie died in 2010. At a press conference posted on the AAP’s website, he talks about how he fell asleep with his son while sitting on the couch watching television.

“I did what I thought was best for my child as a father and a doctor,” said Hanke. “I didn’t think SIDS could happen to me but it did and it could happen to anyone. That’s why it’s so important to follow these recommendations for each and every sleep.”

Heartbreakingly, unsafe sleep environments lead to nearly 3500 infant deaths each year. The AAP’s “Back To Sleep” campaign in the 90’s raised awareness of risk factors and helped lower that number drastically, but the guideline says since then the numbers have leveled off.  So what can we do to help that number continue to decrease?  Well, the new {realistic} guidelines are definitely a great step, and here are some other recommendations to keep in mind and spread the word about too…

  • Place babies on their back for each and every sleep.
  • Have baby share a bedroom with parents {but not the same sleeping surface} preferably until the baby turns one – but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
  • Keep the crib empty. Avoid the use of soft bedding including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys.
  • Encourage mothers to breastfeed as much and for as long as they can.
  • Visit the pediatrician for all scheduled well-visists.
  • Keep homes and cars smoke-free.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature in the room where baby sleeps.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.

Also, for the first time, the Academy is recommending mothers spend some time in skin-to-skin contact with newborns. The guidelines state, “Skin-to-skin care is recommended, regardless of feeding or delivery method, immediately following the birth for at least one hour as soon as the mother is medically stable and awake.” 

The AAP guidelines even had some advice for doctors… They are asking doctors to have open and nonjudgmental conversations with families about their sleep practices.

And of course, the Houston Moms Blog team has plenty of great advice including personal stories on Sleep Training, The Baby Blues, and Feeding New Parents too.

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