PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics says infants should sleep in the same bedroom as their parents.

The statement goes on to specify that babies should still be placed on a separate surface, such as a crib or bassinet, and never on a couch, armchair or soft surface in order to decrease the risks of sleep-related deaths.

“SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment,” utilizes new research and serves as the first update to Academy policy since 2011.

Parents are encouraged to have their child sleep in their bedroom for at least the first six months and optimally for the first year of life, based on the latest evidence.

“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the report. “Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous.”

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Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome.

AAP recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment include:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Mothers are encouraged to move the baby to a separate surface after feeding.

“If you are feeding your baby and think that there’s even the slightest possibility that you may fall asleep, feed your baby on your bed, rather than a sofa or cushioned chair,” said Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, FAAP, member of the Task Force on SIDS and co-author of the report.