BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Taking a baby and wrapping it in a blanket with its head exposed is something many people have done for years without thinking twice about it. Research has even said it promotes better sleep, but a new study says it could be deadly in some cases.
“One of the things we worry about with SIDS or sudden infant death is constricting the chest cavity. So if you think of a baby being tightly swaddled that’s sort of what we’re doing in that process,” said Deborah Raines, Associate Professor at University at Buffalo School of Nursing.
Raines says it’s common for new parents to swaddle their babies, because they see it done in the newborn unit in hospitals. But after a baby is about 7 to 10 days old she says swaddling is not necessary, and could even be dangerous.
“Once the baby gets to be a couple weeks old most of them don’t like to be quite that tight all the time they want to start exploring the world and moving their hands and feet and all those sorts of things,” said Raines.
According to a recent study in the American Academy of Pediatrics, swaddling increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome by about one third, and babies sleeping on their stomachs are at the greatest risk.
“One of the things we recommend to parents is instead of using blankets to use a sleep sac or a wearable blanket which keeps the baby warm but doesn’t have that tightness around their chest,” said Raines.
Raines says it’s safest for babies to sleep on their back. She says the recommendations have changed over time and sometimes that leads to confusion.
“People who are now having babies they’re in their 20s and 30s all slept on their tummies as babies. so they all have nurses now that teach them to put the baby on their back to sleep. But then grandma or aunt Susie and says oh no you always slept on your tummy,” said Raines.
According to the CDC about 3,500 sudden infant deaths happen in the country every year.