Sleep-related death results in the loss of more than 3,500 infants every year in the U.S.

Amita Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks recently attained the Gold Safe Sleep Champion Certification for demonstrating a commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by promoting best safe sleep practices and by educating parents and providers on infant sleep safety.

Jeanne Mitchell, BSN, RNC, director of obstetrical services at Amita Health Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks, shares these important tips to keep your baby sleeping safely:

• Always place your baby alone, on his or her back, in a crib for every sleep time.

• Use a firm, flat sleep surface. A crib, bassinet, or portable crib/play yard that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is recommended.

Parents and providers should check to make sure that the product has not been recalled. Cribs with missing hardware should not be used, and the parent or provider should not attempt to fix broken components of a crib, because many deaths are associated with cribs that are broken or have missing parts (including those that have presumably been fixed).

• Because there is no evidence that bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides prevent injury in young infants, and because there is the potential for suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation, these products are not recommended.

• Car seats and other sitting devices, swings, wedges, and devices that position baby on an incline are not safe for routine sleep.

• Room-share, but do not bed share. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a parent and infant sleep within a "sensory" distance of each other, meaning that each can tell that the other is near, by their touch, sight, or even smell.

Bed-sharing is when parents share their bed with their children (sometimes called the "family bed"). This is not recommended as a form of safe sleep. Various U.S. medical groups warn parents not to place their infants to sleep in adult beds due to serious safety risks.

Bed-sharing puts babies at risk of suffocation, strangulation, and sudden infant death syndrome. Studies have found that bed-sharing is the most common cause of deaths in babies, especially those 3 months and younger.

• Don't overheat or overdress your baby. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult (between 68-72 degrees F).

• Avoid commercial devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS -- These devices include positioners, special mattresses, and special sleep surfaces. There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or that they are safe.

• Travel is one of the biggest causes of sleep disturbances to a baby in many ways. As you pack your bags to travel for holidays, remember to include what you'll need to ensure a separate, safe sleeping environment for your baby while away from home.

If you plan to stay in a hotel, ask in advance if they have cribs available that you can use in your room.

• Children's Health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Amita Health, which is comprised of nine acute and specialty care hospitals, including Amita Health Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital Hoffman Estates and Adventist Medical Center GlenOaks. For more information on pediatric programs, visit www.amitahealth.org.