Baby’s binky may also be a life saver

by Dennis Randall

According to a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the use of pacifiers in baby’s first year may help prevent crib death and  reduce the incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that parents encourage the use of pacifiers at nap time and bedtime throughout the first year of a baby’s life. While many parents have objected to pacifier use because it looks “awful”, the report’s authors say, “evidence that pacifier use inhibits breastfeeding or causes later dental complications is not compelling enough to discredit the recommendation.”

In the case of breast feeding babies, AAP recommends that pacifier use by breastfeeding infants be delayed for at least a month to insure breastfeeding is firmly established. In addition and a pacifier should never be “forced” on a child.

Other AAP policy recommendations include:

  • Back to sleep: Infants should be placed for sleep in a supine (wholly on back position) for every sleep.

  • Use a firm sleep surface: A firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet, is the recommended sleeping surface.

  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib: Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft objects should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment.

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy: Also avoiding an infant’s exposure to second-hand smoke is advisable for numerous reasons in addition to SIDS risk.

  • Same Room Sleeping: A separate but proximate sleeping environment is recommended such as a separate crib in the parent’s bedroom. Bed sharing during sleep is not recommended.

  • Pacifiers at nap time and bedtime: The pacifier should be used when placing infant down for sleep and not be reinserted once the infant falls asleep.

  • Avoid overheating: The infant should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

  • Avoid gimmicks and commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS: Although various devices have been developed to maintain sleep position or reduce the risk of rebreathing, none have been tested sufficiently to show efficacy or safety.

  • Do not use home monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS: There is no evidence that use of such home monitors decreases the risk of SIDS.

  • Encourage “tummy time.” to avoid development of positional plagiocephaly (flat back of head). * Avoid having the infant spend excessive time in car-seat carriers and “bouncers.” Place the infant to sleep with the head to one side for a week and then changing to the other.

  • Share this information: Assure that others caring for the infant (child care provider, relative, friend, babysitter) are aware of these recommendations.

The AAP no longer recognizes side sleeping as a reasonable alternative to fully supine (lying on back) sleeping. Studies have found that the side sleep position is unstable and increases the chances of the infant rolling onto his or her stomach. Every caregiver should use the back sleep position during every sleep period.

Bed sharing is not recommended during sleep. Infants may be brought into bed for nursing or comforting, but should be returned to their own crib or bassinet when the parent is ready to return to sleep. However, there is growing evidence that room sharing (infant sleeping in a crib in parent’s bedroom) is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. The AAP recommends a separate but proximate sleeping environment.