Myths & Facts
MYTH: Cribs cause “crib death.”
FACT: Cribs don’t cause “crib death.” “Crib death” is an old term that was used when the deaths of babies were not well understood. Now, from research, autopsies, death scene investigations and more, we know better.
Cribs save lives.
MYTH: Babies will choke if they spit up while lying on their backs.
FACT: This is not true – babies are actually safer on their backs. When a baby is on his or her back, the airway (trachea) is on top of the esophagus (the tube that carries food). If a baby spits up while on his
or her back, the food and fluid run back into the stomach and not to the lungs. When a baby is on his or
her stomach, the esophagus (or food tube) is on top of the trachea and any food or fluid that is regurgitated or refluxed can more easily pool at the opening of the trachea, making it possible for the baby to aspirate or choke.
When babies sleep on their backs, their airways are more protected.
MYTH: Babies have slept on their stomachs for generations and they survived.
FACT: Many babies have slept on their stomachs and survived, but that doesn’t mean that was the safest way for them to sleep. For reasons that doctors are still trying to understand, some babies who sleep on their stomachs become unable to take a breath when needed. This can cause them to suffocate because of their inability to change position and take a breath. It is also possible that stomach sleeping can increase an infant’s risk of “rebreathing” his or her own exhaled air, especially if the infant is in an environment with soft bedding near the face. As baby breathes the exhaled air, the oxygen level in the body can drop, carbon dioxide can accumulate and the baby can experience a lack of oxygen.
Babies are safest sleeping on their back for every sleep – at nap time and at night time.
MYTH: Baby will get cold with no blankets and will be uncomfortable on a firm surface.
FACT: Babies should be dressed in as much or as little clothing as an adult would need. If you are worried that your baby may be cold, use a footed sleeper or a sleep sack. Babies don’t need blankets, pillows, comforters or stuffed animals, to feel comfortable. These items tend to get in baby's way and can cause suffocation if baby becomes entangled in them. If parents still want these items for baby’s nursery, stuffed animals can be decoration on a shelf, quilts can be hung on the wall and blankets can be used on the floor for supervised “tummy time.”
Keep soft objects, loose bedding, pillows and bumper pads out of the crib.
MYTH: Babies will get lonely in the crib.
FACT: It is possible to bond and develop strong attachments during “awake” time with baby. Cuddling, holding while feeding, making eye contact, and talking with baby are all ways to develop strong attachments. When baby goes to bed, those feelings don’t go away. If baby cries while in the crib, soothe baby and then lay him or her back to sleep in the crib. Baby will feel comfort and will develop ways to self-soothe and calm on his or her own, which is a critical skill. There are many techniques that parents can use to help when baby is crying. Resources such as the “Period of Purple Crying,” advice from a doctor, nurse or other health provider, and others are available to help teach parents skills to soothe baby.
The safest place for baby after soothing is on his or her back in the crib.
MYTH: Baby is safe sleeping in an adult bed.
FACT: Unfortunately, baby is in danger sleeping in an adult bed, or on couches, armchairs or cushions. An adult can roll over on baby or another person’s arm may cover baby’s head or neck, smothering the baby, making it impossible for the baby to breathe. Also, baby can roll or move on her own and end up in a dangerous place such as stuck between the mattress and the headboard or between the bed and the wall or pressed up against a sofa cushion or other loose bedding. Many parents think that they will hear the baby and wake if this happens, but tragically, this isn’t often the case. Many parents also think that bed-sharing is only risky if they have been drinking or taking drugs. Doing those behaviors does increase the risk, but bed-sharing is dangerous even if the parent is not impaired.
Babies sleep safest when sleeping in their own crib, bassinet or portable play yard – parents will sleep more soundly too!
MYTH: Breastfeeding can only be done successfully when the mother bed-shares with her infant.
FACT: This is not true. Breastfeeding does provide the best nutrition for baby, builds the immune system and promotes bonding, as well as many other health benefits.Make sure to place back back in the crib once feeding is finished. Some mothers have found it helpful to set a timer or alarm to help wake them after feeding if they accidently fall asleep or become sleepy. Partners are also helpful in returning baby to the crib when feeding is done.
Breastfeeding is encouraged and can be done safely!