Baby it’s cold outside

By Deborah Raines, PhD, EdS, RN, ANEF

Published January 30, 2017

When the temperature drops, who doesn’t want to curl up in bed under a soft fluffy blanket with lots of pillows and take a nap?  

What might be a warm and relaxing nap for you could be deadly for infants.

In 2014, during a very cold January in Buffalo, six infants died in their sleep (Office of the Commissioner of Health, 2014).  Some of these infants were sleeping with a parent in an adult bed, sleeping face down, or found with their face covered by extra blankets placed in the crib – common behaviors well-intentioned parents use to keep their infant warm when the temperature drops. 

But stop.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines for safe infant sleep positions, commonly referred to as the ABCs of safe sleep. Infants should be:

  • Sleeping ALONE
  • Positioned on their BACK
  • In a CRIB CLEAR of extra blankets, pillows and toys.

When the temperature drops, the solution to keeping infants warm during sleep is not more blankets or sleeping in an adult bed. Some ways to use the ABCs of safe sleep and keep baby warm are to:

  • Dress the infant in layers: A t-shirt, then a onesie, maybe another onesie, topped off with an infant sleeper.
  • Move the infant’s bed away from windows or doorways. When babies sleep near a cold window, their body temperature may drop. Doorways may also produce air movement and can similarly cause a loss of body heat.
  • Place the infant in a wearable blanket. Many wearable blankets allow the baby to move their arms and legs without kicking off the blanket, and the absence of loose blankets minimizes the risk for accidental suffocation or strangulation.

To educate new parents and the community, University at Buffalo School of Nursing and the nursing leadership at Sisters of Charity Hospital collaborated to produce a Safe Sleep Baby video for new parents, grandparents and infant caregivers. It’s an easily-accessible reminder about how to best keep your baby safe and warm – so share this important resource with friends, family, babysitters and anyone else caring for an infant.

And remember – even when it is cold outside – Safe Sleep Baby!