While many parents know the “Back to Sleep” tagline, a recent study finds that parents still are putting their babies to sleep in ways that raise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The study, published in the Aug. 15 issue of Pediatrics, followed 160 families who agreed to have video equipment set up in the rooms where the babies slept. Recordings were taken when the infants were 1, 3 and 6 months old, according to an article on CBSNews.com.
In the first month, 21% of babies were put to sleep in their parents’ bed, in a car seat or in a swing—all areas considered to be unsafe, the study notes. The vast majority—91%—slept with unsafe items, such as plush, bumper pads or stuff animals.
By the sixth month, 33% of babies were put to sleep on their stomachs or sides.
A number of factors may contribute to this.
“One could be parents lack of knowledge,” says senior researcher Ian Paul, a professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “One could be parents’ thinking SIDS won’t happen to them. And then there’s the fact that parents of young infants are exhausted.”
That exhaustion could lead to parents who do anything to get their child to sleep—including putting the baby in bed with them.
Mixed messages from retailers is another reason cited by Deborah Campbell, chief of neonatology at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York.
“You walk into any baby store and you see these products, like bumper pads,” Campbell says.
Paul, the study author, agrees. “There are lots of confusing messages out there,” he says and encourages pediatricians to keep talking about safe sleep with parents even after the newborn period.
October is SIDS Awareness Month.