Study Shows That Your Babysitter Could Be Putting Your Sleeping Baby at Risk
If you've never stayed up all night watching the baby monitor to make sure your child is breathing, are you even a parent? Although this type of behavior could be seen as "crazy" or "obsessive," it's rooted deeply in the fact that within their first year of life, a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is much higher, which can make some parents a little neurotic about safe sleep practices. However, even the parents who fall into that category may be part of the group of moms and dads who are leaving their baby with a sitter or relative and not passing along these valuable safe sleep tips.
A recent study in the The Journal of Pediatrics explored the characteristics of more than 10,000 infant deaths that occurred during sleep, and it was found that when one of these babies was in the care of a babysitter, nanny, or relative, the most common cause of death was being put to sleep in an unsafe place or unsafe position — which accounted for 13.1 percent of the group studied.
In response to their findings, the study's researchers are sending an important message to parents: make sure whoever you leave your child in the care of has knowledge of safe sleep practices — how to put a baby down to sleep and where they will be safe, as well as what not to do.
"If someone else — a babysitter, relative, or friend — is taking care of your baby, please make sure that they know to place your baby on the back in a crib and without any bedding," said one of the authors of the study, Rachel Moon, MD, on the subject of SIDS preventative measures. "You can't make assumptions that the person with whom your baby is staying will know what is safest."
This certainly isn't the first time this explicit message has been sent to parents. In 2015, Derek Dodd shared the tragic story of his infant son who died in the care of a daycare provider who put him in his car seat to sleep. In the hopes that no other parent would ever have to experience what he and his wife Ali went through in losing Shepard, the explicit details of his death by suffocation were widely shared.
If you will be leaving your baby in the care of a family member, friend, or sitter, take a few minutes to discuss safe sleep locations (baby's crib or bassinet), safe sleep positions (on their back, as per AAP recommendations), and general practices for ensuring your child's safety — including, but not limited to making sure there are no blankets, toys, sleep bumpers, pillows, or other objects in the crib with the child.