The “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched in 1994 and sleep related infant deaths plummeted 50%. Pediatricians, parenting experts and safe sleep advocates work hard to spread the word that placing infants on their back to sleep is the safest position for babies to sleep. Below is an outline of the major safe sleep recommendations, all advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
As stated above, it’s so incredibly important that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. Studies show that this drastically decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Once a baby can roll from their back to their belly, it is considered for them to sleep that way.
Where your baby sleeps is important. Babies should always sleep in a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play and it’s important that the place that you put your baby to sleep meets all safety standards. If you’re using a crib, make sure that the crib is new, or at least new enough that it meets all current regulations. Old cribs with drop sides are not considered to be safe. The mattress should be firm, and should be covered with just a tight fitting sheet.
Other than a few pacifiers, the crib should be completely empty. Stuffed animals, blankets, bumpers, pillows, positioners etc. have no place in a crib as they all lead to a potential suffocation risk. As a new parent it may be tempting to put your baby to sleep with a blanket or even a small lovey for comfort. This is unnecessary and it is 100% possible for your baby to sleep well without these extra items in the crib.
Your baby should be swaddled tightly with a blanket that is made for swaddling, or even better you can purchase swaddle pods that stay wrapped around your baby by using Velcro to keep them from coming undone. Once your baby starts to roll, it is no longer safe for them to be swaddled. Transitioning to a sleep sack or wearable blanket is recommended.
The AAP recommends that infants sleep in the same room for six to twelve months before being moved to a separate space to sleep. During this time, the baby should sleep in a crib, bassinet or pack-n-play, but not in bed with parents. Cosleeping positioners are not considered safe and they shouldn’t be used in a bed or anywhere else. Having a baby in your bed could result in the baby being suffocated by a sleeping parent or by the blankets on the bed. There is also a risk that the baby could roll or crawl off the bed injuring herself while her parents are asleep.
The optimal temperature for a sleeping baby is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your baby is dressed in appropriate clothing, and consider lightweight clothing if your baby is still swaddled. Do not dress your baby in a hat while sleeping as this could cause your baby to overheat.
Pacifiers have shown to reduce the risk of SIDS in infants. The best option is a pacifier that is made from a single piece of material so that it cannot break in half and become a choking hazard.
Never allow anyone to smoke near your baby as the second hand smoke could pose a significant health risk to your child. Also avoid taking your baby into a car or room that smells heavily of cigarette smoke.
For more information on safe sleep practices for infants and older children, please reach out to certified pediatric sleep consultant, Jayne Havens. www.thesnoozefest.com.