A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents share a room, but not a bed, with their baby for at least the first six months of the infant's life.
According to the report, babies should sleep in the same room but separately from their parents, such as in a crib, to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, known as SIDS, and suffocation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SIDS is not completely understood by doctors and researchers, but kills as many as 3,500 children each year, typically infants 12 months old or younger.
According to the new report, the risk of SIDS decreases by 50 percent when babies and parent share a room. Ideally, the parents should continue to sleep in the same room as their child for the baby’s first year, the report suggests.
"We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep," said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP and lead author of the report. "Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous." Babies should also sleep without any blankets, toys or crib bumpers, the report also recommends.
"A baby that is within reach of their mother may have more comfort, or physical stimulation from being in an environment with another person," Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a member of the Task Force on SIDS and coauthor of the report, adds.
Having a baby sleep near the mother also helps facilitate breastfeeding, which reduces the risk of SIDS by 70 percent, Dr. Feldman-Winter notes in the report.
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