In April 2015, an Oklahoma family lost their two-month-old son, Shepherd Dodd, because he suffocated when his in-home child care provider left him napping in a car seat. It's making the national news and social media rounds now because Shepherd's story is getting the attention of state legislators on the serious issue of safe sleep standards.
What is safe?
According to Dr. Erich K. Batra, as quoted in the The Journal of Pediatrics April 2015 article
"Cribs Are for Sleeping, Car Seats Are for Traveling: Danger in Using Sitting and Carrying Devices for Sleeping Infants," “Infants and young children should not be left unsupervised when using a sitting or carrying device due to the risk of suffocation and death.” The keyword here is unsupervised.
This article also sources seven main tips as outlined below:
And what about reflux babies?
Two words: ELEVATION and SLEEP. They do not work together, and even worse, can cause mounting risks.
A very common remedy to help alleviate reflux: elevating and or inclining your babies position after feedings (such as baby wearing) and for sleep and resting (such as using a crib wedge mattress or other solution). Mix in uber-stressed-out, ultra-sleep-deprived parents and/or caregivers, and hazardous situations can present themselves. As seen on various searches online, what works for some parents doesn't follow these guidelines, even if conducted under strict supervision.
In my home state of Ohio, the Department of Health, early in 2015, launched a "safe sleep" campaign to address one facet of high infant mortality rates, ranking fourth in the country (3 each week in the state). In their messaging, the concern of back sleeping and choking was broached, including links to a diagram on the National Institutes of Child Health and Development Safe to Sleep and SIDs prevention page.
In short, in my opinion, the situation of safe sleep is 100x more amplified for parents and caregivers dealing with reflux, silent reflux, colic and other common infant issues. It's a huge challenge creating a safe sleep environment for a baby that spits up in their sleep, or can't seem to sleep at all. It's goes beyond the crib and creating a safe physical, mental and emotional space for the whole family. Many families don't have the means to purchase a wedge or specialized reflux device or solution.
I can only offer two more words: AWARENESS and SUPPORT. That is my plea to everyone out there in these situations for themselves, and the friends, family members and even just acquaintances in your world. Parenting is tough, and scary, and requires vigilance - and in these early months - it can take more than you have to give. I hope we can continue to spread the word and build the support systems needed.
Parents prompt legislative study after baby dies while sleeping in car seat - Fox23.com
Cribs Are for Sleeping, Car Seats Are for Traveling: Danger in Using Sitting and Carrying Devices for Sleeping Infants - jpeds.com
Ohio's Infant Safe Sleep Campaign - Ohio Dept. of Health
Frequently Asked Questions for Safe Sleep - National Institutes of Child Health and Development
Parents Whose Baby Died Warn: Don't Let Babies Sleep in Car Seats: Parenting.com
CarSeatLady.com Cold Weather Tips
Spit Up Support Blog
Yea, I went there. Nearly half of all babies spit up, regularly. Some more, some less, and for many it's just plain scary.
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