Sleep Safety for Your Baby

Newborns spend most of their time sleeping – in your arms, in a sling, in the car, or in a crib. But many infants each year die from suffocation, entrapment, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) while their parents believe they are asleep. To keep your baby safe, it is important to follow these important sleep-related rules.

Back is Best. Yes, babies tend to fall asleep on their stomachs often. But unless your doctor specifically recommends for your baby to stomach-sleep, it’s best to put her on her back for naptime and nighttime. Since the AAP made this recommendation in 1992, the number of SIDS deaths has dropped dramatically. And just because your baby normally sleeps on her back, doesn’t make it okay to put her to sleep on her stomach “just this once.” Babies who normally sleep on their backs, or “unaccustomed tummy sleepers,” are 18 times more likely to die from SIDS when put to sleep on their stomachs.

Stay Firm. The best sleeping surface for your baby is a firm crib or basinet mattress covered by a light sheet. Your baby might fall asleep in a carseat, swing, or thin receiving blanket occasionally, but routine sleep should occur on a firm surface. And never put your baby to sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on an upholstered chair; these have been implicated in SIDS cases.

Bump the Bumpers. Sure, they look cute in the baby catalogs, but crib bumpers are a major no-no in your little one’s sleeping space. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “There is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.”

No Soft Cuddlies. Not only are bumpers dangerous, but pillows, blankets, wedges, and even stuffed animals in the crib can put your child at risk of suffocation or SIDS. So save that cute stuffed teddy bear until your baby is old enough to get around on her own.

Apart, but not Alone. The best place for your baby to sleep at night is within arm’s reach, in a bassinet or crib alongside your bed. Sleeping together with your baby in an adult bed is not recommended. Keep your baby close, but safe.

Dress for Success. Babies do not need to be bundled up in layers at night. In fact, overheating can actually put your baby at risk for SIDS. Instead, dress your baby in a light sleeper, and hold back from throwing a loose blanket over him. If the sleeping environment is cold, consider buying a wearable blanket or swaddling him tightly in a thin receiving blanket. Either of these options will prevent the blanket from covering your baby’s head or causing him to become overheated.

By Keren Perles
BabyChatter Contributor