The Importance of a Safe Sleep Space for Your Child
Children, especially infants, are vulnerable when they are asleep. In 2010, more than 2,000 babies died due to a syndrome known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This unexplained phenomenon occurs when a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old inexplicably dies. These deaths often occur when an infant is asleep in their crib, which is why SIDS is also known as “crib death” or “cot death.” Among babies between one month and one year of age, SIDS is the leading cause of death. Even though infants are much more susceptible to harm than older children, they are not the only ones who need a safe sleep space.
Children and adolescents who sleep on elevated beds can roll off while asleep and possibly fracture a bone, suffer contusions, sustain a concussion, and more. The same can happen to children sleeping on bunk beds, but the possible outcomes tend to be much grimmer. For instance, Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published a study regarding bunk beds in its June 2008 issue that revealed that children under the age of six suffered the majority of the bunk bed injuries and were at the highest risk for death resulting from head entrapment and collapsing mattresses.
Sleep Safety Tips
While the alarming statistics and terrifying possibilities can be disconcerting to say the least, there are ways you can reduce your child’s risk of being injured while asleep, and for parents with infants, there are ways to reduce the risk of SIDS as well as other sleep-related causes of infant death.
Tips for parents with infants:
- Do not place hazardous items, such as toys, crib bumpers, loose bedding, and small objects, anywhere in the baby’s sleep area.
- Make sure you always place your infant on his or her back to sleep. Studies have shown that babies who sleep on their stomachs can get less oxygen.
- Prevent your baby from getting too hot while sleeping. Temperature should be comfortable, and safety experts advise parents to not place the baby near open windows or air conditioning or heating vents.
- Use a flat, firm sleep surface for your infant’s sleep area.
- You can have your baby sleep in your room, but on a separate sleep surface.
Tips for parents with children and adolescents:
- Be careful regarding bunk beds. Make sure the bunk bed is up to standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For example, bunk beds should contain two upper bunk bed guardrails that are attached to the bed itself. Manufacturers must comply with specific regulations concerning bunk bed testing, certification, and labeling.
- Have your child sleep on a low-sitting bed.
- Place shock-absorbent rugs on the sides of the bed.
- Keep nightstands, especially those with sharp, pointy edges, approximately one to two feet away from the bed.
Use these sleep safety tips to reduce your child’s risk of being injured and provide you with some peace of mind that your child is sleeping safe and sound.