Close But Not Too Close: Keep Baby Safe While Sleeping

It's a tradition in mystical Judaism (Kabbalah) for parents to tie a red ribbon around a leg of the crib to protect their sleeping infant from the Evil Eye. Centuries ago, people dressed babies (usually males) in blue-colored clothing to ward off evil spirits lurking in nurseries at night.

Today's parents still worry about the safety of their infants during sleep; after all, about 3,500 babies die from sleep-related issues annually in the U.S. Problem is, it can be hard to know what offers comfort and what may be risky.

Some parents want to surround their baby with cuddly soft blankets, plush pillows and stuffed animals. Others favor keeping their baby beside them in bed. These approaches put an infant at risk for suffocation, the leading cause of injury and death in infants under a year old, according to a study in Pediatrics. Soft bedding is linked to 69% of such accidents, usually in an adult bed, and 19% from a parent or sibling rolling over on the infant. There are other hazards too: The Consumer Products Safety Commission recently recalled all models of the Kids II and Fisher-Price Rock N' Play inclined sleepers because of suffocation deaths caused by babies rolling from their back to their stomach.

Babies should sleep flat on their backs in your room, but not on your mattress. Cribs should contain a firm mattress and fitted sheet - and nothing more! Keep babies warm with well-fitting jammies. You'll all sleep soundly and safely.

© 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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