New Infant Sleep Guidelines Issued

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new infant sleep guidelines to aid in reducing the number of sleep-related deaths that occur each year. The guidelines address breastfeeding, crib bedding, sleep space, and positioning, among other recommendations.

The guidelines, last updated six years ago, aim to help reduce the 4,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) that occur each year, 50 percent of which are classified as SIDS.

"We are making good progress in understanding SIDS and the importance of the infant's environment in preventing suffocation deaths," said Rachel Moon, M.D., Guideline Committee chair. "However, we still see evidence of unsafe sleeping practices, and we hoped to address those in these new guidelines."


Everyone has heard the adage that “breast is best,” and the AAP agrees. While their recommendation is based on breastfeeding lowering the rate of SIDS, it is also provides a bonding experience between baby and mom and costs nothing. In addition to helping to lower the risk of sleep-related deaths, breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of asthma in children, along with allergies, serious infection and infant mortality. Breastfed children are also less likely to become obese or develop diabetes later in life.

There are benefits for mom, too: mothers who breastfeed their infants may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer and other serious diseases, as well as have a greater chance of achieving their pre-pregnancy weight than those who opt for bottle-feeding.

Crib and Bedding

The biggest change in the guidelines is the recommendation that no padded bumper be used in the crib. Those cute gingham and animal-print bumper pads are now a no-no, according to the AAP. There is no evidence that they help reduce the risk of SIDS, and they can be a hazard if a baby rolls up against one. This is part of a trend to remove all objects from a crib, including animals, toys, and excess blankets. [Using a swaddling blanket that is tucked or uses Velcro is the best alternative for young infants, although it has not been shown to have any effect—good or bad—on the risk of SIDS.]
Additionally they recommend the use of a firm sleep surface. Pillows or cushions should not be used as substitutes for mattresses or in addition to a mattress. All cribs should meet safety standards of the CPSC, Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, and the ASTM International. If using an older crib, be particularly aware of slat spacing, snugly fitting and firm mattress, and that it has no drop sides.