More than half of babies in the U.S. are sleeping in dangerous beds

A great deal of research has looked into why some infants die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) or suffocate while sleeping. But many parents still let their baby sleep in conditions that can put their lives in danger.

According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 55 percent of infants are sleeping with unsafe bedding.

These medical researchers say infants should not sleep with loose bedding and soft objects in their bed. They should not have thick blankets, quilts or pillows. That type of bedding can block an infant’s airways and create a risk of suffocation warns the NIH’s Safe to Sleep campaign.

SIDS-infographicResearch has also demonstrated that soft bedding increases the chances of the risk of SIDS.

Instead, say the experts, infants should be placed to sleep by themselves, on their backs, resting on a firm sleep surface, like a mattress in a safety-approved crib and be covered by a fitted sheet. Soft items, crib bumpers, toys, comforters, quilts and loose bedding should not be in a baby’s sleep area.

“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” says researcher Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist at the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta.

“Parents receive a lot of mixed messages,” adds researcher Marian Willinger, a special assistant for SIDS at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Relatives may give them quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby, and they feel obligated to use them. Or they see magazine photos of babies with potentially unsafe bedding items. But babies should be placed to sleep on a firm, safety approved mattress and fitted sheet, without any other bedding.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.