Safe Travels Part 3: Sleep Safety

Welcome back the third installment of our holiday blog series about keeping kids safe while traveling. In part one, we discussed car seat safety and last time, we talked about medication safety and making sure medicines are kept safely where children can’t access them. This time, we’ll cover another important safety topic for parents to keep in mind while traveling with kids: sleep safety.

Sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) due to unsafe sleep are a leading cause of preventable death for children under age 1. SUIDs occur at a rate of 12 per day in the U.S. Common reasons for SUIDs include babies falling asleep with soft bedding (like pillows, stuffed toys, and plush blankets) and parents or caregivers falling asleep with infants.

In a 2011 National Poll on Children’s Health, we asked parents of young children up to age 3 about their infants’ sleep positions and their opinions about safe sleep environments for infants. Most parents in the Poll (89%) have heard the message of the “back-to-sleep” campaigns and believe that placing an infant in a crib on his/her back is a safe sleep position. But parents also reported using plush blankets for their infants to sleep with (20% “often” doing this and 27% “sometimes” doing this) and 73% of parents report having fallen asleep with their infants. Read the full report: Many infants at risk in unsafe sleep settings.

Many young children don’t sleep as well when traveling away from home because they’re in an environment that is less familiar. Sleeping arrangements in family and friends’ homes can also pose difficulties for parents of young children. But although sleeping away from home can present some challenges, it’s important for parents to make sure their children – especially infants – are sleeping safely to prevent sleep-related deaths from suffocation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest position for babies to sleep is in a crib or bassinet on their backs on a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Babies should not sleep with toys or other soft bedding – including plush blankets and pillows and stuff animals. Read more: “A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep”.

Have you traveled with infants during the holidays? Share your experiences with infant sleep away from home in our comments section!