Sleeping Safely

You can protect your baby by creating a safe sleep environment and help your baby stay safe while he or she sleeps. Listed below are critical safe sleep practices.

Always place your infant on his or her back when sleeping or napping. Never put your baby to sleep on his or her stomach or side. Babies can suffocate if they sleep face down. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics the rate of SIDS has declined by more than 50% since the Back-to-Sleep Campaign was introduced in 1994.

Never place baby on adult beds, chairs, sofas, pillows, or cushions. All of these locations can be unsafe and cause the baby to become entrapped or suffocate. Always place infant in a crib that has been approved by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission or Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. The crib, bassinet, or cradle should have a firm mattress and a well-fitted sheet and nothing else.

The safest sleep environment is a freestanding crib, bassinet, or cradle. There has been no formal recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting bedside co-sleepers. If you want to be nearby, put a baby’s crib next to your bed. Room sharing is a safer option.

Do not place bumpers, pillows, quilts, toys, or anything in the crib with a baby. These items can interfere with a baby’s ability to breathe if they cover his or her face. If a light blanket is needed, tuck all sides along the bottom half of the crib below your baby’s arms.

Your baby must always sleep alone. It is unsafe to sleep on a bed, chair, sofa, or recliner with a baby. There are also risks involved with co-sleeping or sleeping in the same bed with your infant. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warn that infants should not co-sleep with their parents because of the risks of suffocation and SIDS.

Dress your baby lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult so that he or she does not get too hot. Most experts recommend that you keep your home at a comfortable temperature of between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

SIDS has been linked to smoke exposure so do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born. Keep a baby away from secondhand and third-hand smoke, which can remain in rooms, on clothing, and on upholstery.

Breastfeeding has been linked to reducing a baby’s susceptibility to SIDS. The reason for this is not clear, however researchers believe that breast milk may help protect babies from infections that increase the risk of SIDS.

Place a fan in the baby’s room to help with airflow. Research shows that young infants who sleep in bedrooms with fans have a lower risk of SIDS than babies who sleep in less well-ventilated rooms.

Pacifiers can help prevent SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pacifiers be offered to infants as a potential method to reduce the risk of SIDS. You can read more about their research here.
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/116/5/e716

Some parents have concerns that the baby will choke when placed on his or her back to sleep. There is no evidence that babies placed on their backs are more likely to choke. Babies automatically swallow or cough up fluid while on their backs and anything regurgitated or refluxed from the esophagus must work against gravity to be aspirated into the trachea.

Some parents have concerns that infants sleeping on their back may develop a flattened or misshapen head. This can be prevented with additional time spent upright, tummy time, less time in car seats, carriers, and bouncy seats, and by changing the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next. Tummy time is playtime when infants are awake and placed on their tummies while someone is watching them. This is important to a baby’s healthy development; however, it must be supervised and only during playtime.

Some family members or friends can give you outdated or wrong advice. It is important that you remember the safe sleep tips which include the most current information. It is also important that you ask your family and friends who help care for your baby to do all of these things to ensure that your baby sleeps safely. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at a much higher risk for SIDS.

Copyright © 2010 Safe Baby
Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County, Inc.