Infant Safe Sleep

You spend time baby-proofing your home for your baby’s waking hours. You patiently and carefully watch over her during tummy time. You make sure her baths are at the right temperature before gently washing her.

Devote that same love to her sleeping hours. Read on to learn how to practice infant safe sleep and keep your baby sleeping soundly.


What are the Current Infant Safe Sleep Recommendations?

Infant safe sleep recommendations have changed over time. Share the most current sleep recommendations with your partner and any caretakers who will be around your infant.

The most current infant safe sleep recommendations are as follows:

  1. Your baby should sleep alone in their crib or bassinet on a firm, flat mattress with a taut sheet.
  2. Ensure that there is no clutter inside their sleep space- no blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, stuffed animals or other objects.
  3. If your baby needs to be fed or comforted, you may bring your baby into your bed. However, return your baby to its safe sleep space when you need to fall asleep.

SIDS and Sleep-Related Incidents + How to Lower the Risk of SIDS

SIDS is every parent’s worst nightmare. Lower your baby’s risk of SIDs by adhering to the following guidelines and maintaining the most current infant safe sleep recommendations:

  1. If you can, breastfeed your baby. Babies who breastfeed, or are fed breastmilk, are at a lower risk for SIDS than babies who were never fed breastmilk.
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol and using marijuana or illegal drugs during pregnancy and after the baby is born.
  3. Do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby.
  4. Avoid overheating. Dress your baby in appropriate sleep clothing. Do not over bundle.
  5. Take your baby to regular well-baby visits and stay updated on vaccines.
  6. Practice tummy time with baby.

4 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Safely

As the clock ticks closer to baby’s bedtime, keep these four bedtime tips in mind:

  1. Drowsy Time = Bedtime: When your baby becomes drowsy, place her into her bed. Having your baby fall asleep in your arms may make it challenging for her to go back to sleep if she wakes up at night.
  2. Keep Calm: When you change or feed your baby during the night, try to keep your baby calm and quiet. Keep your voice soft and do not stimulate your baby with toys. This will signal to your baby over time that night time is sleep time.
  3. Daytime Playtime: Chat and play with your baby during the day. This will keep your baby stimulated and awake during the day so that she can sleep for longer spans at night.
  4. Persist with Patience: It can be hard not to respond when your baby cries out at night. If she’s clean and fed, consider allowing her a few moments to see if she can fall back asleep on her own. A gentle hand on your baby’s chest may be all they need to send them back to sleep.

How Do I Swaddle My Baby? And When Should I Stop?

Another important practice at bedtime is swaddling. When your baby is born, a nurse may have swaddled her. Swaddling, wrapping a baby up in blankets, can simulate the womb environment, which can comfort your little one. You may have been a little caught up relishing the moment after your birth when the nurse may have swaddled her, so consider this your swaddling refresher course.

How to Swaddle Your Infant:

  1. Spread your blanket flat in front of you like a diamond.
  2. Fold the top corner down to meet the center of the blanket.
  3. Lay your baby on her back on top of the blanket, with her head above the folded corner.
  4. Straighten her left arm and wrap the left corner over her body and tuck it in her right armpit.
  5. Tuck her right arm down and fold the right corner of the blanket over her body and under her left side.
  6. Fold the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one baby’s side.

Check to make sure her hips and legs can move freely when you're complete. You will also want to check that the blanket is not too tight. You can do this by placing two or three fingers between your baby’s chest and the swaddling blanket.

When your baby starts trying to roll over, it is time to stop swaddling.

Baby Sleep Products – What to Get and What to Avoid

While a good swaddle is a must-have on your baby registry, there are certain items that don’t promote safe sleep. Be sure to avoid the following, as they are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for infant safe sleep.

  • Crib Bumpers
  • Inclined Infant Sleeper Products (these may be called nests, docks, pods, loungers, rockers or nappers)
  • Any infant bedsharing products

Your baby should sleep by herself, without any bumpers, soft bedding, pillows or stuffed toys. Your baby does not need many things to sleep safely. Keep the following on your shopping list:

  • A firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib

Myths and Outdated Infant Safe Sleep Recommendations

As you may have experienced during pregnancy, people have a lot of opinions regarding child-rearing. Keep your facts straight. Start with the following common myths:

Myth: Babies can “catch” SIDS.
Fact: SIDs cannot be caught or spread.

Myth: Cribs cause “crib death” or SIDS.
Fact: Cribs do not cause SIDS. However, an unsafe infant sleep environment can increase the risk of SIDS.

Myth: Shots, vaccines, immunizations, and medicines cause SIDS.
Fact: Recent evidence suggests that shots for vaccines may have a protective effect against SIDS.

Myth: SIDS can occur in babies at any age.
Fact: Babies are at risk of SIDS only until they are one year old.

Myth: If parents sleep with their babies in the same bed, they will hear any problems and be able to prevent them from happening.
Fact: SIDS occurs with no warning or symptoms. Sleeping with a baby in an adult bed increases the risk of suffocation and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

A happy, well-slept baby equals happy (and hopefully, well-slept) parents. If you have any questions regarding infant safe sleep, please speak with your baby’s pediatrician

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