Being a parent, especially a first time parent can be overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your baby from how to treat babies with colic to the "right" way for sleep training and everything in between. The reality is that safe sleep guidelines are ever evolving and what Aunt Franny did with her children just may not be safe in 2019. We put together this quick read with the top 6 safe sleep practices every parent should be following.
1.) ALWAYS PLACE BABY ON BACK TO SLEEP
Infants should sleep on their backs for both naps and at night until their first birthday. Research shows babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDs.
Parents often ask, my baby likes to sleep on their side, is this OK?
The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach.
What about babies who like to sleep on their stomach?
You should always place your baby on their back to sleep, but if your baby can roll both ways then you do not have to return your baby to their back.
Babies should never be put to sleep in/on the following:
- stroller, swing
- infant carrier
- car seat
- soft adult beds
- water beds
If your baby does fall asleep in one of these surfaces they should be moved as soon as possible into the safety of their crib.
2.) USE A FIRM SLEEP SURFACE
Use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snugly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the edge of the crib, this is an unsafe environment for your baby. The fitted sheet should be designed for that particular product.
For example, you should not use a regular crib sheet in a small bassinet. Any extra or loose bedding can cause a potential suffocation risk. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it.
3.) CRIB SHOULD BE BARE
Do not use any objects such as pillows, loose blankets, sleep positions, or soft toys in your infant’s sleeping environment.
What about crib bumpers? They may seem fashionable and to prevent your baby from hitting their head but they are actually dangerous and should be skipped.
Many parents want to use a sleep positioner to help keep their baby on their back or to prop their baby up if they have reflex, colic, etc None of these items are approved by the AAP and many can actually pose a strangulation or suffocation hazard.
4.) USE A WEARABLE BLANKET
Parents worry how to keep my baby safe (and warm) if they cannot use a loose blanket in the crib. Dr. O Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics says, "A solution for keeping your baby warm is an infant sleeper or wearable blanket that zips around your baby and can't ride up over her face."
Using a weighted sleep sack can help keep babies warm, prevent the moro reflex and assist in soothing colic in baby.
5.) SHARE A ROOM, NOT A BED
Place your baby's crib, bassinet or portable crib in your bedroom, close to your bed. Room share, but be aware that the AAP does not recommend bed sharing with your baby as it can pose a significant risk of suffocation.
The AAP recommends room sharing for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. Sharing a room, but not a bed, has been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%.
Room-sharing in separate beds has these advantages :
- easiest way to feed (both bottle or breastfeed)
- more effectively monitor your child
- you get better sleep
- respond to your babies needs quicker
- care for your baby
- allows for a faster response in the event of an emergency
- baby receives more comfort and physical stimulation
6.) USE A PACIFIER
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests offering a pacifier when you put your baby down to sleep for the night.
If breastfeeding, it is advised to introduce pacifier after one month or after breastfeeding has been established. Jennifer Shu, M.D., says "having a paci in your baby's mouth helps to keep his airway open," and this could reduce the risk of SIDs.
A new study has found that use of a pacifier during sleep reduced the chances of a baby suffering from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by 90 percent.
Although you should offer the pacifier when your baby is going to sleep, you shouldn't feel obligated to continue putting in back in your baby's mouth if it falls out during the night.
For more information, watch this comprehensive Safe Sleep video from Healthy Children:
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