Sleeping safety and babies with Dr. Alicia Arnold

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- As a parent, there is no manual handed out giving you step by step instructions for your child, especially for when or how they should sleep. Most recently, a consumer alert was issued for a popular swing that helps children sleep.

Sleeping baby, Photo Date: July 25, 2008 / Cropped Photo: Seth Baur / CC BY 2.0

The warning is for Fisher Price's Rock-N-Play Sleeper. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the sleeper is linked to 10 infant deaths; and unfortunately, that number could be even higher. According to reports, the children died when they rolled over in the device while not being restrained. The safety commission is recommending infants stop using the sleeper when they are three months old or as soon as they start showing they can rollover.

So what should you be paying attention to when your child is sleeping? We sit down with Dr. Alicia Arnold to help us get some answers.

How common is it for parents to use something like a sleeper?

“New parents are often desperate to get some sleep,” Dr. Arnold said. “Parents are sometimes tempted to buy any product that they think could potentially help toward that goal. As a mom of three myself, including a three-month-old, I can relate to the sleep deprivation. It is important though for parents to be aware of the recommendations for safe sleep to help keep their children safe.

Is it recommended to keep babies close at night, or when mom and dad are taking a nap, or the child is?

“It is recommended that babies room share because it has been shown to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Infants should sleep in their own space though, for example a crib or play yard.”

The unfortunate outcome with the Fisher Rock-N-Play came from parents not strapping a child in. Is it just a reminder to take extra precautions?

“The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend sleep products with an inclined surface that require restraints. They recommend that babies be put to sleep flat on their backs. Another potential concern, in addition to babies not being properly restrained, is that babies have a risk of suffocating if the baby is in a soft environment, like a padded sleeper.”

The CPSC recommends stopping use of a sleeper at 3-months-old. Is that a common time babies start to roll?

“Many babies start to roll around 3 months, but babies may roll earlier or later. The concern is that a baby of this age could roll over and become trapped in a sleeper.”

If you're a parent, or a babysitter, what are a few things to think about when using a sleeper, or even a crib?

“Current recommendations are to put the baby to sleep on her back on a firm, flat surface. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it. She should sleep in her own space, and you should avoid any clutter in the crib, like blankets, bumpers, or toys. You can offer a pacifier, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of SIDS.”