Many new parents are unknowingly placing their babies at risk of SIDS, according to new research released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on August 15, 2016.

The researchers examined video recordings of parents putting their babies to sleep, rather than relying on parental self-reported surveys or police reports post-mortem.

More than 160 infants were recorded for one night at home at one, three and six months of age. Many parents were observed to have placed their infants at risk by positioning them on their sides or stomachs, using soft sleep surfaces or loose bedding, or by taking the infant to their own bed.

Notably, 10 – 21 per cent of babies were placed on a non-recommended sleep surface; 14 – 33 per cent of infants were placed in non-recommended sleep positions; and a significant 87 – 93 per cent of infants enrolled in the study had potentially hazardous items on their sleep surface including loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, bumper pads and sleep positioners.

Moreover, the researchers found between 12 – 28 per cent of babies changed sleep locations throughout the night, often moving to a riskier environment, such as sharing a bed with their parent/s.

According to SIDS and Kids, “In Australia each year, over 3,500 families experience the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or child, either through stillbirth, or during the first month of life from sudden, unexpected death in infancy (SIDS or fatal sleeping accidents), SUDC (sudden unexpected death in childhood), or accident.”

Paediatrican at Golisano Children’s Hospital, University of Rochester, New York, Dr Elizabeth Murray explained everyone should be more aware of the risk factors associated with sleep-related infant deaths.

“It reminds us that this is something for all people to be aware of, regardless of socio-economic background or education levels.

“Boring is best, when it comes to infant sleeping position,” Dr Murray said.

“The best thing you can do to show your baby you love them, is to put the baby alone, and on its back.”

SIDS and Kids Australia recommends the following six steps to putting your baby to sleep safely:

  1. Sleep your baby on the back from birth, not on their tummy or side.
  2. Sleep your baby with their head and face uncovered.
  3. Keep your baby smoke free both before and after birth.
  4. Provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby, both night and day.
  5. Sleep your baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult carer for the first six-to-12 months.
  6. Breastfeed your baby.

One of the major reasons for placing children in an at-risk sleeping position is due to tiredness and fatigue experienced by new parents. Australian GP and media medic, Dr Ginni Mansberg, Sydney recommends a course of action that parents can take to get their child to sleep, that will in turn, allow both infant and child a good night’s sleep.

In an article published by NewsCorp, Dr Mansberg advised:

  1. Heading to your GP to get a medical check-up for your baby.
  2. Implementing short-term strategies, such as organising a sleepover for your baby at a friend or family member’s home; allowing your bub to sleep safely in your bed; and taking “nanna naps” where and when you can.
  3. Once you’re able to think clearly, making some long-term plans. If you live in a house without in-laws or irate neighbours, opt for “controlled comforting,” AKA “controlled crying.” This is when you leave your baby to cry for short periods of time, gradually increasing the period between visits. Alternatively, you can “camp out” (sit beside your infant, and gradually move you chair further and further from their cot until you are outside their door).