Providing your baby with a safe sleeping environment is vital to your baby's health but what exactly does that mean?
What position is best for my baby? What type of bed is best for my baby? Should bumpers be placed in the crib? The list of questions goes on and on.
It is currently recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that healthy infants sleep on their backs for the first year of life for safety.1 Infants who sleep on their backs are at a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a condition that affects approximately 4,000 infants annually in the United States.1,2
The risk of SIDS is noted to be the highest within the first 6 months of life, so placing your infant on their back during this time is especially recommended.1
Since these recommendations were made in 1992, there has been a significant decrease in SIDS-related deaths. However, infant deaths caused by suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia have been on an upward trend.3
Nothing is one size fits all, so it best to speak with your pediatrician to see which sleep position is best for your baby based on factors such as medical history. At times, other sleeping positions may be recommended.
Providing your infant with a safe sleep environment is just as important as the position that they sleep in. Certain steps can be taken to make sure you are providing your infant with the safest sleeping environment possible, as well as decreasing the risk of SIDS.
Recommended safety measures include:1-3
- Place your baby on their back for sleeping and encourage supervised tummy time when they are not sleeping
- Offer your infant a pacifier when sleeping
- Place your infant on a firm mattress without bumper pads
- Cover your infant's mattress with a fitted sheet
- Avoid any loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, comforters, bean bags, waterbeds, sofas or soft mattresses
- Do not use blankets to cover your infant and avoid covering the baby's head, instead using sleep clothing such as sleeper sacks or a one-piece sleeper outfit
- Make sure your crib is safety-approved
- Avoid the use of wedges and positioners
- Babies should sleep in the same room as their parents but not share the same bed
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature, avoiding drafts and overheating
- Avoid placing your baby too close to air conditioning or heating vents
- Do not expose your baby to secondhand smoking
- If room sharing, do not let your baby sleep on your bed, couch or chair
- If your baby is not sleeping in a crib all of the time, use a bassinet or portable crib and apply the same safety measures
- It is not recommended to use SIDS reduction monitors or devices.
The risk of SIDS may also be reduced by immunizing your baby as recommended and by breastfeeding.3 Some mothers may choose to bed-share with their baby to promote prolonged breastfeeding, but generally bed-sharing is not recommended. Last year, Medical News Today ran a Spotlight article examining the risks and benefits of bed-sharing with a baby.
Bringing home your baby can be an overwhelming time, even for a seasoned parent. Speak with your pediatrician for more information on safe sleeping practices and which positions are recommended for your infant.
Baby monitors can enable you to listen out for, or even watch, your baby from another room. They can be purchased online.
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