It’s cold out there and we’re all bundling up with lots of layers. These are times when parents and caregivers are especially concerned with keeping babies extra warm. The reality is that more layers and more blankets are not necessarily the best way to keep babies safely warm.
Sadly, infant sleep-related deaths sometimes rise during the winter as parents think they are doing the right thing by “bundling up” their babies when putting them to sleep. A desire to keep babies warm may inadvertently lead instead to tragedy.
Several risk factors in winter months can contribute to sleep-related infant deaths. Babies can be overheated with too many layers on or can suffocate under blankets. Additionally, this risk can be compounded by greater exposure to tobacco smoke inside the home when windows are closed, or from congestion due to having colds.
Every parent and caregiver should observe the A-B-C’s of safe sleep. All babies less than one-year-old need to sleep alone, on their back, in a crib - every time, no exceptions.
· Babies can be dressed in a wearable blanket or one-piece pajama. For an extra layer of warmth, a onesie or undershirt can be put on the baby underneath either of these options.
· Avoid covering babies with blankets and comforters which can suffocate a baby.
· Hats should not be worn because they can slide down accidentally and cover the baby’s face.
· The room that a baby is sleeping in should be at a temperature comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult, such as 72 degrees.
· Babies should be sleeping alone, on their back, in a crib (ABC’s of safe sleep).
BCHD works with the Family League of Baltimore City to manage the B’more for Healthy Babies coalition, bringing together communities, organizations, and resources so that every baby might have the best start possible. For more Safe Sleep tips, check out www.healthybabiesbaltimore.com
For families who cannot afford to provide a safe sleeping environment for their infants, the Baltimore City Health Department will provide and set up a portable crib free of charge. For help in getting a crib, contact
Remember, everyone taking care of babies needs to keep them warm and safe as the temperatures get colder. Far too many babies in Baltimore City die before their first birthday, and many of these deaths are preventable.