Nov. 13, 2023
Health officials and pediatricians emphasize the ABCs of safe sleep
#ClearTheCrib can dramatically reduce infants’ risk of unexpected death
During Minnesota’s Infant Safe Sleep Week (Nov. 12-18) the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is encouraging parents and caregivers to tune into what pediatricians are saying about the best ways to keep babies sleeping safely.
Between 2014 and 2021, Minnesota averaged 46 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) each year. Nearly all those tragic deaths involved unsafe sleep environments.
To prevent such tragedies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has put forth a set of safe sleep recommendations designed to protect children up to 1 year old. These recommendations, known as the ABCs of safe sleep, are as follows:
- ALONE: Infants should always sleep or nap alone - not sharing beds or cribs with others.
- BACK: Always put a baby on their back to sleep or nap.
- CRIB: Babies should always sleep or nap in their own safety-approved crib, play yard, bassinet or portable crib without blankets or pillows. To keep warm during Minnesota winters, parents are urged to dress babies in pajamas or other clothing appropriate for the temperature.
“This week is an opportunity to get the word out about safe sleep practices such as having babies sleep on their backs, alone and in a crib,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Maria Sarabia. “It also highlights the need for all Minnesotans to have the financial and housing opportunities necessary to provide safe sleeping spaces for babies.”
Research shows that bed-sharing raises the risk of a baby’s injury or death. Risks of sleep-related death increase five to 10 times when sleeping on the same surface with someone else when an infant is under 4 months of age. Additionally, the risk of sleep-related infant death is up to 67 times higher when an infant is sleeping with someone on a couch, soft armchair or cushion, the AAP said.
AAP recommendations note there’s no evidence cardiorespiratory monitors reduce the risk of unexpected infant deaths. Parents should also not use head-shaping pillows, weighted blankets, weighted sleepers, weighted swaddles or other weighted objects on or near a sleeping infant as they can create an unsafe sleeping space.
Recognizing the importance of building awareness around this public health issue, Governor Tim Walz proclaimed November 12-18 Infant Safe Sleep Week, and MDH will partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to illuminate the I-35W Bridge in pink, white and blue on the night of Nov. 15. Hennepin County partners are illuminating the Lowry Avenue Bridge in pink, white and blue on the same night.
During safe sleep week, MDH is also promoting the #ClearTheCrib challenge on social media Minnesotans can participate by attempting to clear a crib in under 10 seconds and sharing their video. This challenge is a fun activity that raises awareness about safe infant sleep and can be done with friends, during baby showers, at parenting classes, as a relay race or as practice at home.
Minnesota’s most recent data from 2021 showed 42 sudden unexpected infant deaths. The vast majority of SUID in Minnesota are largely preventable. Fortunately, evidence indicates Minnesota parents and caregivers are ensuring safer sleep spaces. In 2021, 69.4% of mothers reported not using soft bedding, compared to 48% in 2016, according to data collected through monthly surveys with new mothers through the Minnesota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (MN PRAMS).
However, there are racial and ethnic disparities reflecting broader societal inequities, according to research. Between 2017 and 2021, the disparity was two times greater for Black infants and seven times greater for American Indian infants than for white infants. The AAP recognizes cradleboards, used by some American Indian communities, as a culturally appropriate infant sleep surface. Caregivers should be careful not to overly bundle the infant in a cradleboard, causing the baby to overheat.
MDH also wants to highlight Ridgeview Medical Center for its commitment to education and best practices by achieving Silver Safe Sleep Hospital status as part of the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification.
“At Ridgeview, we are dedicated to the health and safety of our youngest patients. Through modeling safe infant sleep in the hospital and providing education and support to families, we can make an impact on preventing infant deaths. I am proud of our staff members for achieving a gold level certification and we are pleased to partner with Cribs for Kids® on this vital initiative,” said Elaine Arion, DNP, MSN, RN, vice president, patient care services and chief nursing officer, Ridgeview.
More information is available on MDH’s Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (Includes SIDS and Sleep-Related Infant Deaths) and Safe Sleep webpage.