Ensuring your newborn’s safety during sleep is SO important. There are many unsuspecting culprits that can unknowingly put your little one in danger. New parents often underestimate the importance of creating a safe sleep environment for their infants. While it may seem innocent, seemingly harmless habits and items can pose serious risks to your baby’s safety during sleep. Today, we’re sharing safe sleep practices for newborns to protect your baby!
Safe Sleep Practices for Newborns: How to Protect Your Baby
Being a new parent can be overwhelming (to say the least). Everyday objects in your home have suddenly become life-threatening to the new addition to your family. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that SUID and SIDS is the leading cause of injury death in infancy.
There are tons of ways that you need to childproof your home to keep your little one safe. Safe sleep for your baby is incredibly important to keep them out of harm’s way. Today, we’re breaking down safe sleep practices for newborns. Here are some key factors to consider:
- Sleep Position: Always make sure your baby is asleep on their back. This significantly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Avoid letting your baby sleep on their side or their stomach.
- Sleep Environment: Make sure your baby has no loveys, pillows, bumper pads, blankets, or any objects in their sleep area. Extra items in their bed can obstruct your little one’s breathing or cause them to overheat.
- Crib Safety: Make sure that you’re using a mattress in their crib that’s firm, flat, and made especially for infants. Also, ensure that there are no gaps between the mattress and crib walls to avoid crib hazards.
- Room Sharing: Sharing a room is recommended by experts to reduce the risk of SIDS for the first six months at least. Room sharing can also make it much easier for parents, especially when it comes to things like newborn cluster feeding.
- No Smoking: Don’t smoke near your baby or inside your home, as exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Avoid Overheating: Dress your baby in light, breathable clothing, and maintain a comfortable room temperature (between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit) to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Pacifiers: There’s an association between pacifiers and a decreased risk of SIDS. Experts recommend offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
- Educate Caregivers: If your baby will be in the care of others (grandparents, nannies, babysitters, etc.), make sure that they’re totally educated on safe sleep practices to protect your little one.
The ABCs of Safe Sleep
The ABCs of safe sleep outlines the sleeping conditions you should follow to protect your baby in an easy-to-remember acronym:
Alone- Babies should be alone on their own sleep surface. Bed-sharing increases the risk of SUIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
Back – Babies should be on their backs while sleeping.
Crib – Your baby’s crib should be completely empty- no pillows, blankets, stuffed animals or loveys, bumper pads, or extra objects.
Safe Sleep Practices for Newborns: How to Make a Safe Place to Sleep
How to Create A Safe Sleeping Environment
Remember, when it’s bedtime or nap time, lay your baby down on their back – side sleeping isn’t recommended. Contrary to a common belief, babies won’t choke if they happen to spit up. When it comes to the crib, ensure it’s safe by using a firm mattress with a snugly fitted sheet. Whether it’s a bassinet, play yard, or crib, make sure the spindle gaps are no wider than 2-3/8 inches, and the sides don’t drop down. Your baby’s safety and peaceful sleep are what matter most.
Can Anything Go In My Baby’s Sleep Area? What About Their Favorite Blanket or Toy?
Creating a safe sleep environment for your baby might seem a bit barren with just a crib and a fitted sheet, but it’s actually the safest choice. Anything else in their sleeping area can pose serious risks to your little one, especially if it’s soft or squishy like pillows, stuffed toys, or crib bumpers. Even seemingly harmless items like comforters, quilts, and blankets, whether they’re underneath or on top of your baby, can be dangerous. This includes non-fitted sheets and even lightweight, small items that might be tucked in, like loveys or clothes.
How to Know What Kind of Bedding to Use
Weighted bedding, such as weighted blankets or swaddles, should also be avoided. Research has shown that anything other than a fitted sheet on the mattress (like crib bumpers) are linked to injuries and SIDS. The best way to protect your baby is to keep these items out of their sleep area entirely.
Why is Firm, Flat, and Level Bedding Best?
It’s crucial to never use soft bedding, comforters, loose sheets, pillows, toys, or extra objects in your baby’s sleep area to avoid suffocation. Keeping your baby’s sleep space empty is the golden rule. (Instead of sprucing up the bed area, use your baby’s room to decorate to your heart’s content!) Avoid having your baby sleep on adult beds, couches, or other soft surfaces; instead, ensure they rest on a firm mattress in their designated sleep space.
Car seats and swings may seem like a comfortable spot for your baby to doze off, but they’re not suitable for extended sleep. Babies may have difficulty keeping their airways open in these devices, so if they fall asleep in a car seat or swing (which they likely will at some point!), make sure to transfer them to a safe sleep place.
How To Practice Room Sharing
Bed sharing, whether with you, other children, or pets, increases the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). Instead, opt for room sharing. This is where your baby sleeps in your room on a separate, safe surface. Studies have indicated that room sharing lowers the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related infant fatalities.
Room sharing also makes feeding, comforting, and monitoring the baby easier for you as a parent! For example, keeping a baby in a safety-approved crib next to the adult bed makes it easier to check on your baby without having to get fully out of bed. An infant sleep space next to the bed also means mamas can breastfeed without having to go to another room.
Breastfeeding is encouraged, as it has been shown to decrease the risk of SUIDS. If you nurse your baby in your bed, make sure to place them back in their own separate sleep space once you’ve finished. Sometimes things happen- if you happen to doze off while nursing, relocate your baby to their own bed as soon as you wake up. If you need help transitioning from co-sleeping to a crib, check out this blog post.
What Temperature Should You Keep Your Baby’s Room?
Creating a safe and comfortable room temperature is key. But remember, don’t go overboard with warmth. Overheating can disrupt your baby’s breathing and sleep patterns, so avoid excessive bundling. It’s important that they don’t feel too hot to the touch. Keep the temperature of your baby’s room between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Babies generally need one extra layer of clothing compared to adults, like a onesie under their pajamas or slightly warmer PJs. For added warmth without the risks of loose blankets, consider using a sleep sack or wearable blanket.
We hope that these tips have been helpful in identifying safe sleep practices for newborns! If you’re struggling to get sleep (especially with a newborn) Sleep Shore offers one-on-one sleep support. Our goal is to help tired parents feel well-rested again.
See what this newborn mama had to say about our sleep services:
“If you are in the thick of things with a newborn and need support with sleep and what “routines” should look like look no further! Molly from Sleep Shore has been instrumental in our sanity with our now 3-week-old son. The recorded call was so helpful for my husband and I to watch and we refer to the PDF document often however, the best part about working with Sleep Shore is being able to check in with a real person on our 15-minute calls.
Molly listened to our challenges and was able to explain WHY things were happening and then gave us tips on how to help calm our colicky newborn and get him down to sleep. Molly continues to check in on us and provide support. After our experience (and continued support) We are definitely planning to work with Sleep Shore for further sleep help & training as our son grows!”
Curious about our services but not sure if they’re for you? Click here to schedule a FREE 15-minute call where we can talk about your sleep. Better rest is ahead!