Infant Sleeping Safety
by Alan Greene, MD, FAAP
As any new parent will tell you, having a baby can be exhausting. In addition to all of the new demands of raising a baby, persevering through sleep disruptions and deprivation takes a near Olympian stamina. But, in your efforts to get your little bundle of joy sleeping peacefully, be sure to take the below precautions into account to ensure safe sleeping habits.
Rules for Infant Sleep Safety
1. Putting children to sleep on their backs lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
by about three times.
2. Use firm bedding. Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib, playpen, or portable crib. Do not place baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.
3. Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering. Replacing loose blankets in the crib with a swaddling sack, such as the SwaddlePod® or SwaddleMe® Wrap, helps keep babies safely sleeping on their back. That is why wearable blankets are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics .
4. Staying close to your sleeping baby, or using a baby video monitor, can help you remain aware of how they are doing while they sleep. Video monitors allow parents to quickly hear and see any signs of baby’s discomfort.
5. Turn the temperature down. Infants sleep safest in a slightly cool room. The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
6. Avoid cigarette smoke, and even anything that smells like cigarette smoke.
7. Take your baby in for regular well-child visits and immunizations.
8. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of SIDS, but the studies remain inconclusive.
9. Using a pacifier in the first year may reduce the risk of SIDS.
10. If you choose to share a room with your baby (a choice for many families), do it safely. There are products out there designed to help keep baby safe and close, including bassinets, sleepers such as the Rest Assured Sleeper, the By Your Side Sleeper, and even bringing the crib into the room for the first couple months. Your baby should sleep in a room that is kept tobacco smoke and chemical fragrance free.
Whichever arrangement you choose, enjoy these unrepeatable months when your child is a baby, and learn what you can about what helps you and your baby thrive.
There is no way to completely prevent SIDS. This uncertainty makes the deep love we have for our children all the more poignant.