Baby sleep: two words that strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. We stress about getting them to sleep, and keeping them asleep, and trying to sleep when they sleep. And once they’re ACTUALLY asleep, we stress about their safety. For me, the most debilitating part of mothering my newborns was the crippling anxiety I had over them not waking up. I would spend hours listening to the monitor or checking on them, just to make sure they were breathing. Baby sleep safety is something that most parents take very seriously. But a new study reveals that not enough parents are educating the people who care for their babies on safe sleep, and it can be very dangerous.

Doctors and experts have stressed the importance of baby sleep safety for a long time. Evidence shows that babies are safest sleeping on their backs in cribs or bassinets, without blankets or pillows.

But a new study shows that while parents are doing what they can to ensure their babies are sleeping safely, caregivers and relatives might not know or understand how recent developments have changed how we put babies to sleep. Researchers studied 10,000 infant deaths in Canada, and found that 1.375 of them occurred when a parent wasn’t present. In those cases, babies were found to be sleeping in unsafe positions, or in unsafe environments.

The study found that 54.1% of childcare providers put babies to sleep on their backs. However, only 38% of relatives or friends and 37.8% of babysitters followed the same practice.

72.5% of licensed caregivers put babies to sleep in a crib. That number dropped considerably among babysitters (49.1%), relatives (29.4%), and friends (27.1%). Researcher Jeffrey Colvin, MD, of Children’s Mercy Kansas City believes the discrepancy could lie in people not being fully educated on developments in baby sleep safety. He told Science Daily, “A lot of relatives and friends may not be aware that babies are safest on their backs. They may have raised children before we knew that this was safest.”

It’s hard to leave your babies in the care of another person. But it’s also necessary for so many parents. Making sure your caregivers are properly educated on baby sleep safety can help ease your worries. And keep your babies safe even when they’re away from you.

(Image: iStock / NataliaDeriabina)