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Your Baby

Updated Safety Guidelines for Infant Sleeping


Elaborate beddings and plush accessories may look stylish and cute in a newborn nursery however, pediatricians know that these things should never be part of a baby’s sleeping environment. Getting new parents to understand why this type of bedding can be dangerous for babies is one of the reasons that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated and issued new safety guidelines.

Nineteen evidence-based recommendations aimed at protecting infants up to 1 year of age are featured in SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, an AAP policy statement and technical report from the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Safe sleep recommendations include placing infants on their backs to sleep; using a firm sleep surface; room sharing without bed sharing; avoiding exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs; breastfeeding; routine immunization; and using a pacifier.

Every year, about 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths. Soon after the “Back to Sleep” campaign debuted in 1994, the SIDS rate declined, but it has leveled off in recent years. Ninety percent of cases occur before an infant turns 6 months of age, with peak incidence between 1 and 4 months.

Most parents know the importance of placing babies on their backs to sleep; the focus now is on the total sleep environment.

“I think the back-to-sleep message has gotten out loud and clear,” said Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the statements and chair of the task force. “When you ask parents, almost every parent knows — whether they are doing it or not is a different thing. We have been less successful at getting people to not sleep with their babies … and much less successful in getting the soft bedding away from babies.”

The dangers of bed-sharing and soft bedding are two problems that Moon says are often misunderstood.

“For the soft bedding, everybody thinks if it’s soft, then it can’t hurt the baby. But soft bedding is actually really a problem because it’s so soft they sink into it. People will often use pillows to ‘cushion’ the babies, and babies sink into them. …That’s very dangerous.”

It’s similar with bed-sharing, she said. “Some parents also think if baby is right next to them, they can tell if there is a problem … and protect the baby,” Moon noted.

A simple ABC formula can help remind new parents and caregivers of safe sleeping actions.

Michael H. Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, a neonatologist and task force member, lays out the “ABCs”:

 A for the baby sleeping alone

for back sleeping

C for sleeping in an uncluttered crib (or play-yard or bassinet)

“Outside of these, one of the biggest things I would really like to see people take away from the updated recommendations is that no matter what, babies should never sleep on a couch, especially with another person,” Dr. Goldstein said. Babies can get wedged between the adult and the cushions.

Other messages in the guidelines deal with sleeping with an infant, swaddling, breastfeeding and pacifiers.

Breastfeeding, along with the use of a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, also is a key recommendation. “We don’t know if people realize that (by breastfeeding) you reduce the risk of SIDS about 50%,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Parents also are advised to be vigilant about environments out of the home. A study in the November issue of Pediatrics found out-of-home settings are more likely to have certain risk factors for sleep-related deaths, including level placement for sleep and location in a stroller or car seat instead of a crib or bassinet

One of the most important milestones for parents and caregivers is when baby sleeps through the night However, it’s normal and appropriate for newborns to wake up a couple of times during the night, especially if breastfeeding, said Dr. Goldstein. Babies will eventually sleep through the night, but not till their little bodies are ready.

Below are the 2016 infant sleep recommendations for parents, caregivers, researchers, pediatricians and media outlets:

1. Place infants on their back to sleep for every sleep period until they are 1 year old. This position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration.

2. Use a firm sleep surface.

3. Breastfeeding is recommended.

4. Infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year, but at least for the first six months.

5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.

6. Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.

7. Avoid smoke exposures during pregnancy and after birth.

8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.

10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.

11. Infants should be immunized according to the recommended schedule.

12. Avoid using commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations, such as wedges and positioners.

13. Don’t use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce SIDS risk. 

14. Supervised tummy time while the infant is awake can help development and minimize positional Plagiocephal (flat head syndrome).

15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling to reduce the risk of SIDS.

16. Health care professionals and staff in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units as well as child-care providers should endorse and model recommendations to reduce SIDS risk.

17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in messaging and advertising.

18. Continue the Safe to Sleep campaign, focusing on ways to further reduce sleep-related deaths.

19. Research and surveillance should continue on all risk factors.

Parents and caregivers can find more information about the “Safe to Sleep” program at:

Story source: Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff,

Daily Dose

New Sleep Recommendations

1:30 to read

SLEEP! Who can get enough of it?  More and more studies point to the need for a good night’s sleep. But, as a new parent, you are sleep deprived, and then when your children get older they may sleep through the night,  but they want to wake up at the crack of dawn.  Once your children are adolescents their days and nights are totally up side down,  they often want to stay up too late and sleep half the day away.

Sleep is an important way to rest our brains and reset our bodies for another day.  Circadian rhythm helps to regulate sleep/wake cycles.  But trying to make sure that your children get enough sleep seems to be a never ending battle (at least in many houses). It is also one of the most frequent concerns of many of my patient’s parents.  

A recent study which was undertaken by the National Sleep Foundation reviewed over 300 articles published in peer reviewed journals between 2004-2014. Based upon their review here are the updated sleep recommendations:

Newborns (0- 3 months) 14 - 17 hours

Infants (4 -11 months) 12 - 15 hour

Toddlers (1- 2- years) 11 - 14 hours

Preschoolers (3 - 5) 10 - 13 hours

School aged children ( 6 - 13) 9 - 11 hours

Teens (14- 17)  8 - 10 hours

Young adults (18 - 25) 7 - 9 hours

So, how do your children stack up with their sleep?  Parents with newborns complain that their children may sleep 15 hours/ day, but not in the increments that they would like, while parents with children over the age of 13 rarely report that their children are getting  8 - 10 hours of sleep.

One mother recently was exasperated as her daughter age 7 would go to bed at 7:30 pm but woke up everyday at 6 am. I explained to her that her daughter was getting enough sleep, and that unfortunately her biological clock was set and that short of making her stay in her room until 6:45 when she wanted her to get up, there was not much to do.  The problem is that many parents cannot go to bed when their children do, (dishes, laundry, work emails, etc to get done while the children sleep.) So while their children may be getting enough sleep the parents are often sleep deprived!

While a good night’s sleep is important for mood and focus there is a lot of data suggesting that children who get enough sleep are less obese, are less likely to get into trouble and are certainly more pleasant to be around.

So, have a good nighttime routine beginning with a regular bedtime for your children. Commit to no electronics in their bedrooms and turn off any electronics at least an hour before bed.  We parents need to do the same!

Daily Dose

Kids Who Snore

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Does your child snore?  If so, have you discussed their snoring with your pediatrician.  A recent study published in Pediatrics supported the routine screening and tracking of snoring among preschoolers.  Pediatricians should routinely be inquiring about your child’s sleep habits, as well as any snoring that occurs on a regular basis, during your child’s routine visits.  

Snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea and/or sleep disordered breathing (SDB), and habitual snoring has been associated with both learning and behavioral problems in older children. But this study was the first to look at preschool children between the ages of 2-3 years.

The study looked at 249 children from birth until 3 years of age, and parents were asked report how often their child snored on a weekly basis at both 2 and 3 years of age.  Persistent snorers were defined as those children who snored more than 2x/week at both ages 2 and 3.  Persistent loud snoring occurred in 9% of the children who were studied.

The study then looked at behavior and as had been expected persistent snorers had significantly worse overall behavioral scores.  This was noted as hyperactivity, depression and attentional difficulties.  Motor development did not seem to be impacted by snoring.

So, intermittent snoring is  common in the 2 to 3 year old set and does not seem to be associated with any long term behavioral issues. It is quite common for a young child to snore during an upper respiratory illness as well .  But persistent snoring needs to be evaluated and may need to be treated with the removal of a child’s adenoids and tonsils.

If you are worried about snoring, talk to your doctor. More studies are being done on this subject as well, so stay tuned.

Daily Dose

Crib Deaths

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Crib bumpers may cause deaths and should never be used!  A recent study in The Journal Pediatrics looked at the incidence of crib bumper related deaths from 1985- 2012.  The authors reviewed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and found that there were 3 times more bumper deaths reported in the last 7 years than the 3 previous time periods that had been reviewed. Bumper pads caused 48 suffocations of which “ 67% were due to the bumper alone and not clutter in the crib, and 33% of the deaths were due to wedgings between a bumper and another object in the crib”.  An additional 146 infants had sustained injuries from the bumpers, which included choking on the bumper ties or near suffocation.  

The study also looked at the number of CPSC reported deaths compared with those from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, 2008- 2011. When using that data the total number of deaths increased to 77. 

While bumpers had been marketed to prevent a baby from falling out of a crib or to keep a baby’s arms or legs from getting stuck between the crib rails, in reality they cause injury and death.  In 2012 a national standard was revised which required that crib bumpers must be 2 inches in thickness or less.  At that time the thought was that “thinner bumpers” would be less likely to cause suffocation. But the recent study found that 3 of the deaths occurred in cribs that had thinner bumpers.   

According to Dr. N.J. Scheers, the lead author in the study, “these deaths are entirely preventable” if bumpers were not used and were not widely available.  But when flipping through a baby store catalog, or even shopping for cribs, parents  and grandparents) see beautiful cribs that are adorned with bumper pads!!  So, if they cause death why are they being sold?  Mixed messages are very hard for parents to understand. Concrete recommendations and guidelines save lives.  

Several cities and states have already banned the sale of crib bumpers and the CPSC is currently in the process of publishing new recommendations on how crib bumpers should be regulated. 

I don’t see the need for any more studies to show that bumper pads may cause deaths and injuries.  Clear guidelines from the AAP state, “bare cribs are the best”  and “all infants should be put to sleep on their backs”.  Save your money and your baby’s life…no bumpers.

Daily Dose

How To Prevents SIDS

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A new study on swaddling and sudden infant death (SIDS) was just published this week in the journal Pediatrics. Not surprisingly, it found that infants who were swaddled and placed on their sides or stomach had a higher incidence of SIDS. It has been routinely recommended for more than 15 years that all babies sleep on their backs and since that time the incidence of SIDS has been dramatically reduced.  Unfortunately not everyone follows the AAP recommendation. 

While it has been known that tummy sleeping has been associated with SIDS this meta analysis looked at data which was gathered over two decades and from 3 different global sites. The review found that infants who were swaddled and placed on their sides were almost twice as likely to experience SIDS and the risk of SIDS did double in those babies who were swaddled and placed on their stomachs.  

I discuss swaddling with all of my patients as there are so many different swaddle blankets available.  Actually, one of the first things a newborn nurse seems to teach a new parent is how to swaddle their baby.  While swaddling has been promoted to aid in calming a newborn as well as to help their sleep, the recommendation that the baby be placed on their back in their crib continues..  Many a baby looks like a little burrito….. rolled up in the swaddle and then being placed on their back in the crib.

But is seems from this study that some babies were being swaddled and then placed on their side to sleep. Unfortunately, even a newborn may squirm enough that they then move from their side into the prone position.  Older infants who are swaddled may actually roll from their back to their tummies, even while swaddled. While the association between swaddling and SIDS remains unclear, I think this is a good reason to start getting a baby out of a swaddle once they are rolling. So around the 3 month mark I start having parents loosen the swaddle and try to just lay the baby on their back without being swaddled.

Let me re-iterate, this article does not confirm an association between swaddling and SIDS.  I do think it is a good reminder for putting a baby, “back to sleep” and once they are rolling “ditching” the swaddle seems to make even more sense. Once less thing to worry about, right?


Daily Dose

Pre-Schoolers & Sleep

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Many parents of pre-schoolers report that their children have some sleep problems, whether it is delaying going to bed, having a hard time falling asleep, or awakening during the night with nightmares and bad dreams. All of these behaviors lead to sleeplessness for both child and parent. 

A recent study from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute published in Pediatrics looked at 565 children between the ages of 3-5 years.  The parents of these children were asked to replace “violent or age inappropriate media content with quality educational and pro-social content”. In other words, less super heroes and more Sesame Street and Dora. (I still long for the serenity of Mr. Rogers). The researchers then monitored these 565 children’s sleep patterns for 18 months. 

The study found that the children in the group advised about healthy media were 29% less likely to have sleep problems than the children in the control group. 

Once again there is data to support what one would intuitively assume, children who watch violent and age inappropriate TV and videos have more problems with sleep. I have known that since I watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as a child, I dreamed about those flying monkeys for at least the next 10 years. Still don’t like them!  That goes for ‘The Birds’ too, another scary movie for sure! 

With easy access to so many cable channels and constant internet options, parents need to be extra vigilant about what their pre-schoolers are exposed too. When parents were coached on making healthy media choices for their child in this randomized trial, there was a sustained reduction in sleep problems, so it lasted! 

I think a trip to the library and books at bedtime are also a great idea and better than watching TV or videos.  Curious George, Dr. Seuss, and Richard Scary books all seem to stand the test of time and will probably not keep your pre-schooler up at night. More sleep for Mom, Dad and child! 

Daily Dose

New Baby Questions!

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Lots of new baby questions this week in my office, so I that I thought I would cover a few of the most frequently asked by parents within days of bringing that precious newborn home from the hospital. So, here we go:

My baby has blue hands and feet…should I go to the ER?  The medical term for this is acrocyanosis.   It is not uncommon for a baby to have a bluish/purple discoloration to their hands and feet. This often occurs if the baby gets chilled or cold, whether that is after a bath or sometimes even after they are unswaddled to wake them up a bit to get them to eat.  If your baby has pink lips and tongue and seems otherwise fine this is the normal adjustment of a baby’s circulation and may last for a few weeks to months.  When parents are concerned about this and make a trip to the ER where they are discharged with the diagnosis of “worried well”.

What temperature do I need to have my thermostat set?  This question always makes me laugh a bit because some of it is truly dependent on the climate where you live. Many parents think they need to “crank up the heat” for a newborn, but actually a cooler room temperature has been shown to correlate with a reduction in sudden infant death (SIDS).  The “ideal” temperature that has been recommended is around 68 - 70 degrees, but for those of us who live in the south during the dead of summer, it is almost impossible to keep your house this cool and very expensive. At the same time, some parents are uncomfortable during the winter with the thermostat at 68 degrees…so I would recommend keeping your house comfortable and on the cooler side rather than too warm. You also do not need to bundle your baby when it is blazing hot outside, less is more if the house is hot.

What about a pacifier?  Mother’s come in and say, “I was told that I shouldn’t use a pacifier because it will cause “nipple confusion”.  While I am a huge proponent of breast feeding I think that a pacifier is also helpful for a breast feeding mother so that she does not use her own breast as a “human pacifier”. Many new moms come in to see me at the 2 week check up crying, exhausted and with bleeding nipples. They are putting their baby on the breast for hours at a time as “it seems the only way my baby is content”.  Although they were told that they could put their finger in their baby’s mouth as a way to help console their baby, that too does not provide much of a distance from the baby…even to go to the bathroom, take a shower or eat!! A baby has the reflex to suck which is termed, “non-nutritive sucking”.  This is one way that your baby will calm themselves.  So, once your baby is getting on the breast, I would buy a pacifier and “teach” your partner how to hold your baby in the position as if they were going to be fed,  but with a pacifier to suck on rather than the breast. Once situated you can try walking around, gentle bouncing or swaying while your baby is happily sucking on their pacifier. Mother gets a bit of a rest between feedings and infant is happy with a pacifier ( rather than a finger). We will discuss taking away a pacifier at another time! 


Daily Dose

A Better Night's Sleep

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What is it about sleep and parenting? Babies never sleep enough and teenagers sleep too much!! Why can’t “we” get this right? While sleep patterns definitely do change with the age of the child, good sleep habits can begin in infancy and continue throughout adolescence.

Even from the beginning,  you should try to teach your child to fall asleep on their own and to self-console by either sucking on their fingers or a pacifier. But remember, this sleep thing is new and babies really do have to learn how to do this.  Think of it as if you were teaching your child to read, it doesn’t happen overnight, but evolves with practice, patience and repetition. Sleep is the same way.

After the early years of teaching your child to fall asleep on their own, the toddler, preschool, and elementary years are usually fairly easy to establish good sleep patterns if you follow a routine, with a set bedtime, reading to your child before bed and hugs and kisses and lights out. This is the age for occasional nightmares, or fears, but also for regular nights of uninterrupted sleep.

With the tweens and teens and hormone changes of adolescence comes a new sleep clock that is set to stay up too late and not wake up in the morning. Even teens need a good nights rest, so a bedtime should be encouraged and enforced unless there is a test of special event. There is not a reason I can think of for teens to be up past 11 pm on a school night, homework should be finished, and all of the accessories such as cell phone, computer and all other electronic gear put up before bed. The older you get the more you understand a good night’s sleep , but someone has to teach the basics along the way and before you know it the whole house will be on that schedule too. That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow. Send your question to Dr. Sue now!

Your Toddler

Toddlers Lack of Sleep Tied to Behavior Problems


Sleep is vital to survival and while we may appear to be doing nothing, our brains are very active. Sleep deprivation can make us grumpy and unable to make good decisions or concentrate. Not only do adults need sufficient amounts of sleep- so do children.

 A new study looks at the affects not enough sleep can have on toddlers and found that those little ones that slept less than 10 hours a night or woke up frequently were more inclined to have emotional and behavioral problems at age five.

Researchers were surprised that the “risks were so strong and consistent” said lead author Borge Sivertsen of Uni Research Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen.

“While only an experimental study can determine causality, our study does suggest that there is an increased risk of developing such problems, also after accounting for a range of other possible factors,” Sivertsen told Reuters Health by email.

The results were from a long-term study of 32,662 pairs of mothers and children in Norway. The mothers filled out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old and again when the child was five years old.

Mothers rated 99 child behaviors on a scale from “not true” to “very true” and reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how often he or she woke up during the night.

At 18 months, almost 60 percent of toddlers were sleeping for 13 to 14 hours per night and about two percent were sleeping for less than ten hours per night. About 3 percent of toddlers woke three or more times per night. Most kids woke a few times per week or less.

Toddlers who slept less than 13 hours per night often had emotional or behavioral problems at the same age, the authors write in JAMA Pediatrics.

They also had a higher risk of internalizing problems such as being emotionally mercurial, anxious and depressed.

While the study doesn’t prove causation, it does lend a lot of credibility to there being a link between too little sleep in toddlers and later emotional and social problems.

“Although it is difficult to tease out causality from observational studies, this longitudinal study does suggest that inadequate sleep in early childhood increases the risks for later emotional and behavioral problems,” said Michelle M. Garrison of Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Washington, who wrote an editorial about the research.

Not all of these children will necessarily develop mental health problems later in life. Other factors also play important roles like the child’s temperament and his or her parent’s emotional health.

If your child seems to have difficulty sleeping well or getting to sleep, talk with your pediatrician about tips to help your little one get the rest he or she needs. 

Source: Kathryn Doyle,



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