Around 4 million babies will be born in the U.S. and Canada this year, and if you're one of the new parents, you want to make sure your newbie thrives. Fortunately, since 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended that infants sleep only on their backs to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the number of tragic incidences has plummeted, and parents have had fewer worries. But there still are around 3,000 unexpected infant deaths every year; so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the AAP are campaigning to help parents eliminate other causes.
Their No. 1 target: bed-sharing. It increases the risk of SIDS fivefold. Falling asleep next to your infant is particularly risky if you are overweight, have long hair, use soft and cuddly comforters and pillows, are exhausted, a smoker or even a moderate drinker or taking drugs or medications. (There's something there for almost everyone!)
You can enjoy bringing baby into bed with you to breastfeed or to comfort or cuddle the child — but do it while you are fully awake. The best arrangement is to have your little one sleep in your room but not in your bed. Set up a crib with a firm surface and no crib bumpers, soft bedding or pillows, blankets or other fabric that could interfere with breathing. Don't use pacifiers on strings placed around baby's neck or clipped to clothing, and avoid exposure to smoke or illicit drugs. Now, if Mom and Dad could just get a good night's sleep, too
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