For years, pediatricians have urged parents to put sleeping babies on their backs to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics is adding something new to that recommendation...a pacifier. Not only do they say it okay for babies to fall asleep with it, but now, they are even recommending it. "Now that there are six studies, we're convinced there is enough evidence and the public clearly should know about it," says Dr. John Kattwinkel with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
All those studies point to the same theory, that pacifiers at nap-time and bedtime may help keep a baby's airways open and change sleep patterns...reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has other new recommendations, as well. Bed-sharing is not recommended, but room-sharing is. In other words, babies should not sleep in bed with their parents or a sibling, but there is new evidence that the risk of SIDS goes down when a baby sleeps in a crib near the parents' bed.
Above all, doctors still urge parents to put sleeping babies on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, something they say 90% of mothers do today. The problem more often is family members who don't agree. "Young mothers can take a baby home and do what they saw in the hospital, but then her mother says 'Oh, that's not right...put the baby on its stomach," says Dr. Kattwinkel.
So the bottom line is, when your mother or grandmother says that she put all her babies to sleep on their tummies and they're just fine, new moms just need to remember that the number of SIDS deaths has dropped 50% since the "Back to Sleep" campaign started in 1992. Which was a nationwide effort to get parents to flip babies over so they'd sleep on their back.
By the way, dentists say pacifiers won't harm the development of babies' teeth, as long as they're weaned by age one.