Rutgers scientists have developed a free app in association with volunteers at Microsoft to help families keep their infants safe during their first year of life, and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Barbara Ostfeld, pediatrics professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers said safe sleep education happens throughout New Jersey hospitals, clinics and pediatric offices. But once the parents go home with the baby, how does the information stay fresh with parents?

The new app, "Baby Be Well" just rolled out for Android devices only, with iOS version to follow shortly. She said the app is designed as a traditional baby book, where parents can upload photographs and milestones and even track day-to-day activities such as feedings. Each time a parent comes back to the app, the parent is given a tip about safe infant sleep.

The interactive part of the app features question-and-answer games, where users can test their knowledge, get scored and even more about keeping infants safe.

She said the app is for parents, grandparents, babysitters and other caregivers. Ostfeld pointed out that parents can create family groups. People love to open the app because parents are sharing photos and other vital information, she said.

Ostfeld said advice on safe sleep has changed over the years. For example, she said, parents are now advised to place infants to sleep on their backs in cribs without bumpers. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines says to clear the bed.

"Bare is beautiful, so out go the pillows. That's absolutely a no-no. No baby has ever asked for a decorative pillow," Ostfeld said. No bumpers, blankets or stuffed animals should ever be in a crib with a sleeping baby either, she said. If a baby needs some warmth, she suggested thicker clothing is okay.

To help reduce the risk of SIDS, Ostfeld said, a caregiver should place the infant on the child's back to go to sleep during the first 12 months of life. Around six months, babies develop two skills — they can turn from back to belly and from belly to back. After that, parents should still place their infants on their backs to go to sleep, but a baby may develop a liking to sleeping on his or her side. As long as the baby can turn each way, that's OK, Ostfeld said.

90% of SIDS cases occur in the first six months of a newborn's life. Ostfeld said to also help keep babies safe from this tragedy, "share your room, not your bed." Additionally, avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, another contributor to SIDS.

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