Safe sleep guidelines updated for 1st time in 6 years; Experts take stance against popular at-home monitors

Here's what we know

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new safe sleep guidelines this week.

Approximately 3,500 infants die from sleep-related infant deaths every year in the U.S. That’s a substantial decline since the 1990s before parents were instructed to sleep babies on their backs.

This is the first time the guidelines have been updated in six years.

The guidelines are mostly the same, babies should sleep alone and on their back in a crib. Meaning, that they are doubling down on discouraging co-sleeping, despite new research about why SIDS may happen.

Two months ago, researchers in Sydney discovered an enzyme thought to play a role in sudden infant death syndrome. That enzyme plays a key role in waking someone when they stop breathing.

“SIDS is one type of infant death, and we still don’t know much about the new marker, what percentage it will really affect,” Dr. Victoria Regan, Children’s Memorial Hermann Pediatrics, said.

In the latest recommendations, doctors emphasize the need for infants to sleep on their backs, alone on flat surfaces without any kind of bedding, soft animals, blankets or bumpers. That means strollers, car seats and inclined sleepers are also not safe for sleeping.

The newest update to the guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend breathing monitors like these sold in stores as a sock or wristbands that can alert parents if breathing or heart rate changes.

They say they aren’t proven to work and can give parents a false sense of security.

“Also, the alarms can go off for inappropriate reasons, and then you’re worried something is wrong with the baby, but really the baby is doing just fine,” Dr. Regan said.

Some examples of monitors going off for harmless reasons include natural changes in heart rate while sleeping, or the monitor can be knocked loose.

Watch out for the heat!

Dr. Regan said while swaddling is recommended, too many layers of clothing can make babies overheat, which is also linked to SIDS.

Keep them at a comfortable temperature in the Houston heat.

Why are products marketed for sleep that is not considered safe?

Until recently, there were no requirements to discontinue sleep products that could be considered harmful.

The new federal “Safe Sleep for Babies Act” is supposed to do away with products such as inclined sleepers, in-bed sleepers, and travel sleepers this year.