By DR. SALLY ROBINSON

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their recommendations for ways parents can keep their sleeping baby safe. These recommendations are for healthy babies up to a year of age. There are some babies with certain medical conditions who may need to sleep on their stomachs. Your baby’s doctor can tell you what is best for your baby.
Things you can do to help keep your baby safe.

• Place your baby on his back every time he goes to sleep until a year of age. If the baby has rolled from his back to his side or stomach, he can be left in that position if he is able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy. If he falls asleep in a car safety seat, stroller, swing, etc., he should be moved to a firm surface as soon as possible.

• Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface. The crib, bassinet, portable crib should meet current safety standards (www.cpsc.gov). Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet. Never put your baby to sleep on a chair, sofa, water bed, cushion or sheepskin.

• Keep soft objects, loose bedding or any object that could increase the risk of getting stuck, suffocation or strangulation out of the crib. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads and stuffed toys can cause your baby to suffocate.

• Place your baby to sleep in the same room where you sleep — but not in the same bed. Keep the crib or bassinet within an arm’s reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breast-feed your baby nearby. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, suffocation or strangulation. Parents can roll onto babies during sleep or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets.

• Breastfeed as much and for as long as you can. Studies show that breast-feeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS.

• Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you smoke — try to quit. However, until you can quit, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke near your baby even if you are outside.

• Do not let your baby get too hot. In general, dress your baby in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Your baby may be too hot if she is sweating or her chest feels hot.

• Do not use products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.

• Give your baby plenty of tummy time. This will help strengthen neck muscles and avoid flat spots on the head. Always stay with your baby during tummy time and make sure she is awake.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.