By Samantha Smith
A new research study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, released in May through Pediatrics Magazine, showed a slight connection between swaddling babies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The study found that swaddling babies can be comforting, but for more active infants, it could contribute to SIDS or death by suffocation.
Dr. Stephen Pont, M.D., a pediatrician at Dell Children’s Medical Center, who also works with the American Academy of Pediatrics, agrees with the study’s results.
Pont said that although there’s no known causes for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), there are contributing factors to the phenomena that can be avoided.
According to Pont, infants should only be swaddled until they start to roll over, which for most babies, is around two months old.
Dr. Amit Salkar, Board Certified Pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic Kyle/Plum Creek, agreed with Pont on the two-month rule.
“I tell parents not to swaddle after this time (two months of age),” said Salkar.
The way in which a baby is swaddled can affect the probability of SIDS as well.
Pont said babies should be swaddled around the chest, leaving space around the neck and room for legs to move. A squirmy baby and a loose swaddle provide ample opportunity for baby to accidentally roll over and suffocate themselves.
“The safest way for babies to sleep is on their back, not their stomachs or sides, because they may roll over and not be able to roll back, resulting in suffocation,” Pont said.
Pont and Salkar advise parents to keep a baby’s crib clean and empty. They said no heavy bedding or extra toys in the crib, no bumper pads or blankets, except for the receiving blanket hospitals use.
The Austin American-Statesman referenced an article that gave additional information on SIDS and extra tips for parents in preventing the syndrome. According to the article, babies who use pacifiers have a lower risk of SIDS, while those exposed to cigarette smoke have a higher risk.
Pont said babies who are around cigarette smoke from their parents, friends and family could see an increase in the risk of SIDS due to the strain on their developing lungs.
“We have seen lower rates of SIDS with pacifier use most likely due to the constant sucking motion a baby makes that keeps baby from falling into too deep a sleep,” Pont said.
Salkar agreed with Pont on pacifier use decreasing an infant’s chance of SIDS. Salkar claimed that sucking on a pacifier might help the baby keep his or her airway open during sleep.
Pont said another contributing factor of SIDS is co-sleeping.
Pont strongly advised against this practice due to the danger of a parent or caregiver rolling over onto the baby and suffocating it.
Pont said this practice may seem like the best way for a tired parent and baby to catch up on some sleep together, but it’s actually more dangerous for a baby.
He said a sleep deprived person is generally harder to rouse than a well rested person.
“I highly recommend against co-sleeping,” said Pont.