Most Moms Aren't Putting Their Babies to Sleep Safely, Study Says

sleeping baby

Not every family's bedtime routine is the same, but when it comes to a baby's safety, most parents aren't doing one simple thing that can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) before putting their little ones down for the night. 


Although many parents know that it's safest for babies to sleep on their backs, a new study found that a majority of moms fail to consistently follow this advice every single time they put their baby to sleep. The new study, which was published in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that of 3,297 moms surveyed, only 47.7 percent intend to and always place their babies on their backs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, placing a baby on his or her back can reduce the number of cases of sleep-related infant deaths. The Safe to Sleep campaign has also been raising awareness since 1994 regarding the importance of babies being placed on their backs. Still, only about 77.3 percent of moms typically -- but not always -- follow this advice.

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"What was new and hadn't been explored before was this idea of what people intended to do versus what they actually do," the study's co-author, Dr. Eve Colson, said, according to CNN. "What we found was that people intended to put their baby on their back but didn't always do that."

Researchers also found that those who don't feel in control of their baby's sleeping position -- because they assume the baby would just move anyway or a loved one would end up moving them -- were three times more likely to put their baby to sleep on his or her stomach. Colson also found that the majority of moms who intentionally placed their babies on their stomach do so because they don't think sleeping on their back is as comfortable for babies, or because they were led to believe that back sleeping is actually more dangerous for them.

Dr. Robin Jacobson, a pediatrician who was not involved in the study, attributed these misconceptions to lack of education as well as cultural beliefs. "Grandmothers and aunts and everybody have told (mothers), if they have babies sleep on their bellies, they're more comfortable; they're not going to choke," Jacobson told CNN. "And because of that, a new mom who doesn't really have a lot of information is using information from everybody else in their life."

Although sleeping guidelines have changed over the decades, it's essential that parents consistently create safe sleeping environments for their babies each and every time. In addition to never tucking them in on their tummies, the American Academy of Pediatrics also advises parents to sleep in the same room as their infants for at least the first six months to decrease their baby's risk of SIDS by 50 percent.

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