For us, sleep is an escape from the real world and a chance to dream. For newborns and infants, sleep is their everyday reality and a constant necessity. Research has shown that we’re wired for shorter, lighter sleep cycles as babies because it’s a time when we’re most vulnerable and need to respond quickly to danger. As parents, we do everything we can to protect our kids, but it helps to be reminded that naps and bedtimes should also be a safe experience, too.
October is National Sleep Safety Month, dedicated to creating awareness of the healthiest and safest possible sleeping environments for newborns and infants. Though rates have dropped steadily since 1994, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), suffocation and sleep-related issues are still the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age. We’re proud to partner with Safe Kids Worldwide this month to offer some quick tips and real answers to ensure your child sleeps safely (and you sleep easier).
Safe Kids Worldwide makes it as easy as ABC to remember:
A Is For Alone:
Sleep-related causes of infant death include accidental suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. That’s why it’s important for your baby to sleep alone in their own crib and not in bed with other children or adults who may block their breathing or roll over on them.
Bumper pads are intended to protect your baby from injury, but, in fact, they can pose serious injury or death due to suffocation or entrapment. Crib safety regulations now have standard requirements for the width of the slats, so bumper pads are no longer protective and have no place in a safe sleep environment.
It’s not only bumper pads that should be avoided: Your baby’s crib should be clear of any pillows, blankets, loose bedding and any soft goods. Her binkies and stuffed animals are perfect for cuddling when she’s awake, but when it comes to sleeping, it’s safer to save the snuggling for daytime.
A is also for air quality: Safe sleep environments are about the things you can’t see, too. Avoid having anything in the room with artificial fragrances and harsh synthetics, including candles, room fresheners and infant care products.
B Is For Back to Basics:
Babies should be put to sleep with their back on a firm surface—no couches, pillows or adult beds. Start them sleeping on their back as soon as possible, even if they’re with another caregiver. If you’re worried about flat spots, your baby should have plenty of supervised Tummy Time when they’re awake to build muscle strength, motor skills and prevent flat spots on their head.
The back sleeping position is not only the safest for babies, it also makes them less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections, according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Parents often worry about choking, but swallowing or coughing up fluids while asleep is a natural reflex that keeps their airway clear; being on their back may actually prevent choking due to the location of the windpipe in this position.
C Is For Clear Cribs:
Once she’s in her crib, keeping her sleeping area clear is key: her favorite pacifier or that cute bedding isn’t more important than her safety.
Bumper pads are intended to protect your baby from injury, but, in fact, recently they have been shown to pose serious risk of injury. Crib safety regulations now have standard requirements for the width of the slats, so bumper pads are no longer protective and do not have a place in a safe sleep environment.
It’s not only bumper pads that should be avoided: Your baby’s crib should be clear of any pillows, blankets, loose bedding and any soft goods. Her binkies and stuffed animals are perfect for cuddling when she’s awake, but when it comes to sleeping, it’s safer to save the snuggling for daytime. If you’re worried about keeping her warm, a cozy sleepsack or other wearable blanket are great options.
A sweet slumber can always be a safe slumber. Be sure to share these tips with new parents you know and be sure to rely on www.safekids.org for more sleep expertise and guidance.
Image courtesy of Tiffany Jahangiri