Becoming a Mom or Dad for the first time is one of the most exciting events in your life. However, for a lot of new parents, it’s also stressful time. Taking care of a new baby can feel overwhelming. There is a lot to learn and parents are exposed to an avalanche of information. One important area parents need to learn about is sleep for their little one. Naturally, babies need a good night’s sleep, but it’s also crucial that they have a safe sleep environment.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. More than 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping, often due to SIDS, suffocation or other accidents. Fortunately, the risk of SIDS can be greatly reduced by following simple safe sleep guidelines that have been developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). These apply any time your baby sleeps – not only nighttime, but also nap time.
- Back is Best. Your baby should always sleep on his/her back until he/she is old enough to easily turn over in bed. This is the safest way for infants to sleep. Sleeping on the tummy or side can pose a danger by restricting breathing.
- Sleep Alone. Your baby should sleep alone in a crib or bassinet. Bed sharing/co-sleeping is not recommended for any baby. Adult beds pose a number of risks to infants. For example, blankets and pillows could cause a baby to suffocate, a baby could roll and fall off the bed, or parents could roll onto the baby while sleeping and injure them.
- Safe Sleep Surface. You should always use an approved sleep surface. A crib, bassinet, or portable crib that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. It’s also important that the sleep surface has a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Never place your baby on a sofa, armchair, or adult bed to sleep.
- Empty Crib. You should keep all objects out of the crib or bassinet at all times. This includes soft and loose bedding (pillows, blankets, plush toys, bumper pads, loveys, etc.) and toys. Also, avoid hanging mobiles directly over the crib. Even though all these items seem like cute accessories, these items increase the risk of accidental suffocation, strangulation, or choking.
- Swaddles and Sleep Bags. Blankets can pose a suffocation risk to infants. To keep your baby cozy and safe, swaddles and sleep bags (also called sleep sacks or wearable blankets) are recommended. These products can’t interfere with baby’s breathing. Swaddles are typically used for the first few months. In contrast, sleep bags can be used for both babies and toddlers. You can check out our collection of organic sleep bags here.
- Room Sharing. Although bed sharing should be avoided, room sharing is recommended for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. In addition to reducing the risk of SIDS, room sharing makes middle-of-the-night feedings easier and gives you peace of mind knowing your baby is close.
- Pacifiers. The use of a pacifier has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. Offer a pacifier when putting your baby to sleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier (2-3 weeks).
- Breast Feeding. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS. If you are able to breastfeed, the AAP recommends this as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for the first 6 months. Even after introducing solid foods, you can continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months or longer.
- No Smoking. No one should smoke anywhere near your baby, even when outside.
By following these helpful tips, your baby will sleep safely and soundly, and as a parent, you will have greater peace of mind.