Most Parents Aren’t Following Safe Sleep Guidelines, According to a Recent Study

In a recent video study published in the journal, Pediatrics, many parents didn’t follow safe sleep recommendations. In fact, 93% of babies at 6 months of age were at risk because of one specific issue.

safe sleep video studyThe biggest advantage of a video study is that you actually see what people do instead of hearing what they say they would do. In a recent study with surprising results, many parents did not follow safe sleep practices. And even when they started out with their baby in a safe sleep position, they changed it during the night, often moving the baby to their bed. Each of these parents had agreed to be videotaped.

How Was the Study Done?

There were 3 separate groups of babies that were volunteered to participate by the parents, ages 1 month, 3 month and 6 month. Recording equipment was placed in the family’s home. Researchers analyzed the videos after the fact. There were 160 one-month-olds, 151 three-month-olds, and 147 six-month-olds.

Results of the Study

Researchers looked for potential risk factors of sudden infant death syndrome. This is the percentage of babies at risk for each factor:

At one month:

  • 21% of the infants were put to sleep on an unsafe surface
  • 14% were not put to sleep on their back
  • 91% had stuff in the crib, such as bedding, bumper pads, pillows, stuffed animals, or sleep positioners
  • 28% moved to a different sleep space during the night, often to sleep with a parent.

At three months:

  • 10% were put to sleep on an unsafe surface
  • 18% were not put to sleep on their back
  • 87% had stuff in the crib
  • 18% moved somewhere else during the night.

At six months:

  • 12% were put to sleep on an unsafe surface
  • 33% were not put to sleep on their back
  • 93% had stuff in the crib
  • 12% moved somewhere else during the night.

There are two pretty big takeaways from these results

1. Parents don’t realize infants should have nothing in the crib with them (toys, blankets, etc.).
2. Parents underestimate how old children have to be before they can sleep on their stomach or side.

Why shouldn’t babies sleep with stuff in the crib?

Parents think that babies may need a stuffed toy to make them comfortable in the crib, or an extra blanket for warmth. But infants under 1 year old really don’t need any extra things in the crib. They may get tangled or caught in other objects while sleeping. If the object blocks the baby’s airway, the baby can’t remove it. While it’s rare that this happens, it’s not worth the risk.

At what age can babies stop sleeping on their back?

According to the results, many parents think it’s okay to not put their baby on their back when sleeping at 6 months old. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should really wait until 1 year old until they can sleep in other positions. It’s also good to note that if your baby can flip over on their own before 1 year old, it’s not vital to go and turn them on their back again, but you should still wait until 1 year old before you can place them in the crib on their stomach or side.

Always talk to your pediatrician about safe sleep techniques, and read more on our safe sleep page.