We refer to the report, (Keeping baby safe in bed, Oct 9).
At KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), babies rooming in with their mothers is instituted, but mothers are not allowed to share the bed or cot with their babies.
Bed-sharing, where the infant sleeps on the same surface as an adult is not advisable as there is insufficient evidence to suggest it is safe. What is recommended is that infants (less than one year of age) share the room with their parents, without bed-sharing.
Bed-sharing increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (Sids). Studies show that bed-sharing was associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of Sids in the first three months of life compared with infants placed in a cot in the parent's bedroom.
For a safe infant sleeping environment, we recommend adopting the following measures:
• Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns one year old, but at least for the first six months. This decreases the risk of Sids by as much as 50 per cent;
• Place the baby on his back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet;
• Avoid using soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys to prevent these from covering the baby's head and causing suffocation. Keep the crib bare;
• Avoid swaddling your child in thick wraps to prevent overheating;
• Breastfeeding is recommended as added protection against Sids. After feeding, the baby should be moved to his separate sleeping space.
In addition, mothers and other caregivers caring for a baby should avoid smoking and consuming alcohol and illicit drugs.
Mothers who are exhausted should seek support from family members to help with baby-sitting and household chores so that they will have time to rest.
Nirmal Kavallor Visruthan (Dr)
Department of Neonatology
KK Women's and Children's Hospital