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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Tennessee Department of Health urge safe infant sleeping practices

May. 1, 2015, 3:03 PM

Pediatricians at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt have seen four infant deaths from unsafe sleeping habits in the last seven weeks. Infant sleep-related deaths are heartwrenching tragedies that can be preventable when safe sleeping practices are followed.

“Our deepest sympathies to the parents and loved ones in these heartbreaking and tragic deaths,” said Tennessee Department of Health commissioner John Dreyzehner, M.D., MPH. “This can and we know tragically does happen to anyone; that is why it is critical for everyone who will be involved in caring for a new baby to practice safe sleeping habits. Co-sleeping is dangerous; it is obviously not fatal every time, but sadly it only takes once.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, in 2012 and 2013, there were a total of 238 sleep-related infant deaths.

“The loss for these families is unimaginable and the deaths don’t always happen at home.  We encourage families to make sure anyone caring for their baby knows and practices safe sleep also,” said Kate Carlson, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and medical director of the Primary Care Clinic at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Carlson stresses the importance of following the ABC’s of safe sleep.

A is for Alone – The safest place for babies is in the same room as their parents, but alone in a separate sleep area.

B is for Back – Always place babies on their back to sleep.

C is for Crib – Babies need their own safe space to sleep. Keep all loose objects, soft toys and bedding out of baby’s sleep area.

Other steps to create a safe sleep environment for your baby include:

The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult; 68 to 72 degrees is recommended.

Sleep sacks are a great option to provide an extra layer of warmth, without the need for a blanket.

Devices such as car seats, strollers, swings and slings are not recommended for sleep.
Breast-feed your baby as long as possible.

Once breast-feeding has been well established, you may consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. The pacifier does not need to be reinserted once it has fallen out of your baby’s mouth and should not be forced if your baby is not interested.

Objects such as stuffed toys, which might present a suffocation or choking risk, should not be attached to pacifiers. Also, pacifiers that attach to clothing should not be used with sleeping babies.

Do not smoke while you are pregnant or allow others to smoke around your baby.

Seek medical care early in your pregnancy. Good medical care and nutrition habits while you are pregnant will reduce the risk of premature birth, which is a major risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

For more information about safe sleeping visit

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