(NBC) - Thousands of babies die in their sleep every year in this country, with some deaths unexplained, but most are from accidental suffocation.
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"Have the baby on the back, in a crib or bassinet next to the parent's bed. Nothing else should be in that crib or bassinet except for the baby," said Dr. Rachel Moon of the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
According to a new report from the centers for disease control, 22% of parents do not put their baby on their back to sleep, 39% use soft bedding like pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets for their baby, and 61% have slept in the same bed with their infant. All are dangerous practices that can lead to accidental suffocation.
Resist the temptation to put a blanket on a baby when it is cold outside. Pediatricians said a onesie, warm-footed pajamas and a winter sleep sack should keep newborns comfortable.
The middle of the night with a cranky newborn is a vulnerable time for exhausted parents. Experts advise setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes when you begin overnight feedings to rouse you in case you fall asleep.
Breastfeeding and using a pacifier can also reduce the risk for sleep-related death in infants.