We work hard as parents to keep our babies safe from harm. We baby-proof our homes. We buckle them into car seats each time we go for a ride. We ensure that when they begin to eat food, that we try one food and then give it a few days to see if they have an allergy. When they start to walk, we spot them to break their fall. We work hard to keep them safe and keeping them safe while sleeping is just as important as all of the above efforts we make.
So why is it that so many parents resort to co-sleeping when we know that it is not recommended? For many of us (and yes, I said “us”) – we have done it because we are just tired. With our first child, we did co-sleep for a few months, we did so because we were tired. In those early months, finding sleep can be very difficult and co-sleeping is an easy short term solution. However, it is not the safest solution by far. There are other ways to help your little one to sleep a bit better, even in the early months. For tips on this, see my Newborn blog post.
With an average of 3,500 infant deaths each year due to sleep related incidents, it is vital that we do all that we can to keep our babies safe when they sleep too.
The ABCs of Safe Sleep:
- Alone – our babies should sleep alone. Not with mom or dad or brother or sister. There should be no blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals, loveys. Sheets should be tight fitting and on a firm surface.
- Back – our babies should be placed on their back to sleep. In fact, there was a push for sleeping babies on their backs in the 1990s which helped to reduce the cases of SIDS.
- Crib – our babies should sleep in a crib or a bassinet with a mattress made for that crib. There should be no extra space between the mattress and the crib.
Other Recommendations To Help Reduce The Risk of SIDS:
- If your baby rolls to their belly in their sleep but cannot roll back to their backs independently just yet, you will want to roll them back to their back.
- Avoid overheating – a safe sleep temperature is somewhere between 68 to 72 degrees fahrenheit. Your baby should sleep in no more than one layer more of clothing than you are comfortable in.
- While it is not possible for all, studies have shown that breastfeeding can lower the risk of SIDS.
- Avoid exposure first, second or third hand to smoke.
- A pacifier has been shown to help reduce the risk of SIDS. You can introduce one if you want, but do not need to replace it once it has fallen out.
- Spend some awake time in tummy time to help strengthen muscles and even practice a bit of rolling.
- Once a baby can roll, it is time to stop swaddling!
Stay Up To Date on Sleep Recommendations:
The American Academy of Pediatrics periodically changes their recommendations based on the most recent studies. You can find out more information about safe sleep and their latest recomendations here: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/Committees-Councils-Sections/Child-Death-Review/Pages/Safe-Sleep.aspx
My husband and I are grateful that our first child is OK despite the few months we spent co-sleeping. I mean, I really did love to cuddle that sweet baby at night, but his safety became more important, than both our sleep and that extra cuddle time. We were able to successfully make the transition to the crib using GNSS methodologies and in the end are getting more sleep than we had gotten when co-sleeping (both for us and our son).
So please keep your little ones safe while they sleep too. If you are co-sleeping because you are tired or you just don’t know how to help your baby sleep well in their crib, check out some of the below resources for guidance. However, if you feel that you need help with the transition, we at Good Night Sleep Site are always here to help.
- Newborn Sleep
- Is Sleep Training Right for Your Family
- You’ve Decided to Sleep Train and You Have Questions
- Sleep Schedules
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Good Night Sleep Site Florida