As a Child Sleep Consultant, I take safe sleep very seriously. When I work with parents, I teaching them how to create a safe sleep environment for their little ones. So, what is safe sleep? Safe sleep is putting your little one(s) to sleep in a way that prevents them from any danger such as: choking and/or suffocation, and sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS). SIDS is an unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year and typically occurs during sleep.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for safe sleep:
- Do keep the room at a cool and comfortable temperature. I recommend the room temperature around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. And dress appropriate for sleep, a good rule of thumb is dress them in what you would be comfortable sleeping in. Lightweight, cotton pajamas and a sleep sac or a heavier sac during the colder months.
- Do lay your baby down on their BACK for all sleep and on a firm mattress. The mattress should fit snug in the crib with no spaces between the mattress and the frame. Also, ensure your fitted sheet is a tight fit on the mattress.
- Do lay your baby down ALONE in their CRIB or BASSINET. Don’t bed-share! Bed sharing is when parents sleep in the same bed as their babies. It is the most common cause of death with babies. However, I do recommend room sharing. This is when you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed (for 6 months to a year). For more safe sleep tips check out American Academy of Pediatrics
- Do consider using a pacifier. Research shows using a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Do provide lots of tummy time. It can help make your baby’s neck, shoulder and arm muscles grow stronger. This will help prevent suffocation as your little one is able to maneuver their head. Always watch your little one during tummy time!
- Don’t put your baby to sleep on soft surfaces. Remember, mattress needs to be firm.
- Don’t keep crib bumpers, loose bedding, or other soft objects in your baby’s crib. The baby should sleep alone to avoid suffocation.
- Don’t let your baby sleep in a carrier, sling, car seat or stroller. This can put your little one at a higher risk for suffocation. If your baby falls asleep, take him/her out and put them in the crib or bassinet. Do this for all sleep.
While working with families, I also suggest a few tools to help create the perfect sleep environment. First, use black out blinds and/or curtains is very important. This will ensure the room is dark enough for all sleep. Any natural light can prohibit quality sleep. Second, a great tool to utilize is a video monitor. This can help you keep a close eye on your little one as they sleep. Third, I recommend using a white noise machine to promote better sleep. It will block out all the unwanted noise and create a calming sleep environment for your little one.
When it comes to safe sleep, if nothing else, always remember the ABC’s (ALONE, ON THEIR BACK, IN THE CRIB OR BASSINET). Once you implement these tips and practices, your baby will be sleeping safely.