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Safe sleep for infants

Safe sleep for infants

Babies sleep … a lot. Their tiny bodies need the rest, even if their sleep seems irregular and inconsistent. That’s all OK. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, while 4- to 11-month-olds need 12 to 15 hours.

However, while your baby sleeps, she still needs the same level of protection you give her when she’s awake. Newborns and infants are susceptible to being crushed or suffocating in certain sleep environments, and even the way they are placed in their bassinets or cribs can increase their risk of serious injuries or death. Here are some tips to help your littlest family members sleep safely.

3 Guidelines for a safe sleep environment

When it comes to creating a safe sleep environment for infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends following these guidelines:

  1. Place your baby on his back in his own sleep space, such as a crib or bassinet, in your room for at least the first six months. Babies should sleep on their backs exclusively until their first birthday, according to the March of Dimes. Eventually, babies gain enough control over their bodies to be able to roll over or sleep on their stomachs.
  2. Place your baby on a firm, flat mattress covered with nothing more than a fitted sheet.
  3. Keep blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, crib bumper pads and other soft items out of the bassinet or crib.

Another way to remember the safest way for newborns to sleep is the popular “ABC” mantra:

  • Alone
  • On their backs
  • In a crib

Is it safe to sleep when your newborn sleeps?

As you rock your baby to sleep, it can be normal for you to start feeling sleepy, too. It’s fine to sleep when your newborn sleeps—in fact, doing so gives you the opportunity to get much-needed rest. Just be sure to put your baby in her bassinet or crib first, and then head to your own bed (or favorite sofa) to catch some Zs.

Co-sleeping and bed sharing with an infant can be extremely dangerous. You may roll over onto your baby while sleeping, which could cause serious harm or even be fatal. Instead, consider room sharing—placing your baby’s bassinet or crib in the same room where you sleep. Room sharing can help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleeping with your baby nearby also may help with breastfeeding.

Understanding SIDS

SIDS is a mysterious condition in which babies younger than 12 months die suddenly for unexplained reasons. The cause is still not fully understood, but there are known risk factors, including babies who:

  • Sleep on their stomachs or sides
  • Sleep in the same beds as their parents
  • Sleep with soft bedding in their cribs

SIDS is most common in the winter, when parents are tempted to bundle their babies up in blankets. To keep your infant warm, use a sleep sack, which will keep her cozy without putting her at risk. Research from the AAP also suggests that SIDS risk may increase if babies sleep in their car seat or another sitting devices, which offers another compelling reason to ensure your baby sleeps only in a crib or bassinet.

When she’s awake, practice tummy time. This can help her develop the muscular control needed to roll over, which can reduce the risk of SIDS.

We’re here to help

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your baby happy and healthy—and so do we. The LCMC Health pediatric team is here to help you with your child’s health. Schedule an appointment online.