Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Fitted Crib Sheet is All You Need

I have had many well-intentioned people question me about only having a fitted crib sheet in my baby's crib.  Things have changed since the "old days" when new parents would have blankets, quilts, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, etc, crammed into a baby's crib.  In fact, there are many "misperceptions about infant bedding" which can lead to "unsafe sleep environments."  Many of the items mentioned above have been shown to be a "risk" in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Today, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, that new parents "keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and stuffed toys can cause your baby to suffocate. Note: Research has not shown us when it’s 100% safe to have these objects in the crib; however, most experts agree that after 12 months of age these objects pose little risk to healthy babies."  The American Sudden Infant Death Institute also recommends "there should be nothing in the bed but the baby - no covers, no pillows, no bumper pads, no positioning devices and no toys. Soft mattresses and heavy covering are associated with the risk for SIDS."  The Consumer Product Safety Commission also recommends that parents "do not put pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, pillow-like bumper pads or pillow-like stuffed toys in the crib."

With all of that in mind, I have made an effort to keep anything but a fitted crib sheet in the crib with the baby.  It may look plain and "boring" but a baby at that age does not care what their crib looks like and I can definitely sleep better at night knowing that my baby will not suffocate with their blankets.  What do I use instead of a blanket?  I use a "sleep sack" or other type of "wearable blanket."  These blankets are "worn" by the baby over their pajamas and is secured either with a zipper or velcro.  When my baby outgrew the sleep sacks, I just dressed him in two pajamas before bed.  I used an age appropriate pajama and then put one size bigger over that one.

As for crib bumpers, my child frequently hits the sides of the cribs.  It only started becoming noticeable when he was over a year old.  Prior to that, I don't think he hit the sides of the crib much.  If he did, it didn't wake him up and he wasn't covered in bruises when he woke up.  When I could hear him hit the side of the crib when he was older, it did not seem to wake him up and once again, did not appear to hurt him in anyway.  There was an article published by the Journal of Pediatrics in September 2007 which included pictures of dolls representing positions of infants found who had died as a result of the crib bumpers in their beds.  Seeing those pictures were enough to scare me into not ever wanting to use a crib bumper in my baby's crib.  I can't even begin to imagine the horror these parents must have faced seeing their child in one of these situations.  It was in part because of this article that the American Academy of Pediatrics officially changed their guidelines in 2011 to recommend against crib bumpers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in September 2010 against the use of sleep positioners.  My baby would on occasion "spit up" and I had been told to elevate my baby with a sleep positioner.  Many positioners were marketed to "aid in food digestion to ease colic or the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)."  However, the "benefits" of a positioner (many of which have not been proven safe or effective by the FDA) far outweigh the risks.  There have been reports of 12 infant deaths in 13 years associated with a sleep positioner.  Once again, this is another situation where I would rather deal with a little bit of spit up than a baby who has suffocated.

While I really appreciate all of the blankets and stuffed animals given to my baby, they will remain safely outside of the crib until they are older.  My older baby did not start using a pillow, blanket or have many stuffed animals in his bed until he transitioned to a twin bed at two.  It was only at that time did I feel he had the motor skills necessary to "move" if his airway was obstructed by any of these items.

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