New parents certainly have a lot on their plate, and a lot of new information to learn! An infant requires constant care, after all. So it’s no wonder that parents spend many sleepless nights before and after a baby arrives trying to figure out everything they need to know.
But one of the most important aspects of caring for a new infant is taking precautions while they are fast asleep. There are roughly 3,500 sleep-related emergency incidents among U.S. babies each year. But both parents and caregivers can reduce these numbers by adhering to a few simple steps when it’s time for their baby to rest.
The following guidelines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant emergency situations, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). By making sure your baby routinely sleeps in the optimal position, you can rest assured that your baby (and hopefully you) can safely get the sleep you need.
This is the rule of thumb for both naps and nightly rest.
Some parents may be concerned that this increases the risk for choking if the baby spits up. However, babies have surprisingly strong gag reflexes, and sleeping on the back is much safer than sleeping on the side and stomach when it comes to SIDS.
A mattress in a safety-approved crib will work just fine, covered by a fitted sheet. Firm surfaces, as opposed to soft surfaces, help reduce the risk of suffocation as well as SIDS.
For the first six months or so (and ideally for the first year), keep your baby’s crib in the same room where you sleep.
Do not allow your baby to sleep in the same bed, as the risk for suffocation and other emergencies goes up when the bed space is shared.
Instead, simply make sure that the crib is readily close by in case any issues arise. As your baby grows, and moves to a new room, you can continually check on your baby while they are resting with video and audio baby monitors.
Soft items, such as blankets, pillows, soft toys, or bumper pads can cause a number of problems.
For one thing, if there are too many blankets or other soft items, your baby may get too hot. For another, any of these items can increase a risk of choking or suffocation.
So keep your crib area free and clear of excess items, and use sleep clothing – like wearable blankets – if cold temperatures are a concern.
If baby is sleeping safely, but waking a lot, here is a helpful post about sleep training for starting good sleeping habits early.
It takes a while for new parents to learn the ropes, which is certainly understandable and common across the board. But with a little attention to your baby’s sleeping routine, you can ensure that your family enjoys safe and restful nights in the weeks, months, and years to come.