AAP: The Tension Between AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines and Infant Sleep

The Tension Between AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines and Infant Sleep | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics


To understand tension mothers experience when attempting to follow American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines and enhancing infant and parental sleep.


Surveys and focus groups were conducted from November 2022 and March 2023 with United States-based English-speaking mothers of infants <6 months of age recruited via social media and who reported a nonrecommended sleep position and/or location ≥2 times the prior week.


Twenty-five mothers participated in focus groups and surveys. A total of 80% reported holding or rocking their infant to sleep; 76% fed their infant to sleep. Almost all were aware of the ABCs (Alone, Back, Crib) of safe sleep and intended to follow them before delivery. Many felt that ABCs were unrealistic and placed their infants in nonrecommended locations or positions because they perceived them as more comfortable and helping their infant fall and stay asleep. Mothers were more likely to use nonrecommended practices when they were awake or sleeping nearby and believed they could closely monitor their infant. Some questioned whether ABCs were the only way to achieve safe sleep. Some prioritized other safety concerns (eg, fall prevention) over sudden infant death syndrome or sudden unexpected infant death prevention. Mothers expressed confidence about getting their baby to sleep in general but were less confident that they could do this while following guidelines.


Despite awareness of the ABCs, mothers regularly engaged in nonrecommended practices with the goal of improving their own and their infant’s sleep. Interventions focused on improving infant and parental sleep while maintaining sleep safety are needed.