Babies spend the majority of their first months of life in their sleep space. Considering that babies are typically sleeping while in their cribs or bassinets – and for the longest stretches of time it’s when mom and dad are also sleeping – it’s safe to say that the time that they do spend in their sleep space is largely unsupervised. For that reason alone, parents must take proactive steps to assure their baby’s safety while sleeping.
When creating your baby’s sleep space, keep these 7 tips in mind:
1. Avoid bed-sharing. While there’s an upswing in the support of co-sleeping and bed sharing from many parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still insists that room-sharing, rather than bed-sharing, is safest for babies. According to First Candle, bed-sharing increases a baby’s risk of death by 40 percent. Keeping your baby in a separate, but close, sleep space is the safest place for your baby to sleep. Placing a co-sleeper or bassinet beside your bed allows you to closely monitor your baby throughout the night.
2. Use a firm sleep surface. While it can be tempting to put a fussy baby in a car seat or bouncy seat to sleep, for regular, routine sleep the safest place for your baby is on a firm surface. Cribs, bassinets, and play yards certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA) are held to safety standards above and beyond the standard requirements set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Be sure that the mattress has a firm fit and that the sheet fits snugly on the mattress.
3. Put baby to sleep on his back. While your mother may argue that she put you to sleep on your stomach and you turned out fine, it is now known that putting a baby to sleep on his back is safest. Since the 1994 Back to Sleep campaign started, overall SIDS rates have dropped by more than 50 percent.
4. Keep loose items, including bumpers, out of the crib. While great grandma may be offended that you don’t tuck your baby into his crib with the blanket she lovingly knitted him, you’ll have to put hurt feelings aside for the sake of your baby’s safety. Loose bedding and soft items like stuffed toys and positioning wedges can pose a suffocation risk to your baby. Instead of using a blanket, opt for a sleep sack, which will keep your baby safely covered while asleep.
5. Avoid overheating. While you may think that dressing your baby in layers and keeping the heat on year round will keep him warm, doing so can put him at risk for overheating. A baby’s room temperature should be about 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, or comfortable to a lightly clothed adult. If your baby is sweating, feels damp or has heat rash, he’s too hot.
6. Position cribs away from windows. While your baby’s crib may look lovely centered under his bedroom window, putting it there can pose a safety risk. Having a baby within reach of window cord blinds, open windows, draperies, air conditioner cords and other window accessories puts your baby unnecessarily at risk for injury or death.
7. Communicate sleep safety. While your caregiver may already be well versed in sleep safety, communicating your requirements for a safe sleep space is essential to ensuring that you and your caregiver are on the same safety page.
Parents have enough safety concerns to worry about when their baby is awake. Creating a safe sleep space can minimize the risks associated with SIDS, crib injuries, and crib death.
Our thanks to Roxanne Porter for this important information on keeping your baby safe. pb