The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends new practices to avoid sleep-related deaths among infants.

“Being a parent, especially a first-time parent, can be very stressful,” said Michelle Murphy of North Colonie.

Murphy is raising an almost 4-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl. They’re a bundle of energy, and like any children, bedtime can be a challenge.

“If you’re not getting enough sleep for yourself, you can definitely do things to compromise your child’s safety,” Murphy said. “Just for your own sake.”

What You Need To Know

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics is emphasizing safe sleeping practices for infants

  • The AAP recommends children less than 1 to sleep on their back in an empty crib or bassinet on firm surface

  • About 3,500 infants suffer a sleep-related death every year in the U.S., according to the association

It’s why Murphy is applauding the AAP for emphasizing the importance of making sure your baby is sleeping on his or her back, in a crib or bassinet and with a flat, firm surface covered with a fitted sheet.

“If you put your hand down in it and it makes an impression, that’s too soft,” explained Dr. Harry Miller of Four Seasons Pediatrics in Clifton Park.

Pediatricians are also encouraging parents to not sleep with their baby on a couch, armchair or bed, as the risk of death increases significantly.

“You’re bringing them into a softer bed, not a firm bed,” Miller said. “There are other objects there, including in some cases, a parent who is very tired.”

These are recommendations for children under the age of 1.

According to the association, there are about 3,500 infants involved in sleep-related deaths every year.

“I make it a point at 4 months of age to discuss sleeping,” Miller said. “Especially then, but from the first visit.”

Miller said it’s easy for parents to overlook these sorts of things.

“If your baby is sleeping better, you’re better sleeping,” he said. “If you’re better sleeping, you’re a better parent.”

For Murphy, who organized a large support group online called Capital District Moms, it’s a sentiment she echoes.

“It takes a village to raise children,” Murphy said. “Ask for help so you can get some sleep, and so the child can sleep safe.”