How to Create a Safe Sleep Environment
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Safe sleep is a hot topic, and there is a very good reason why: the way in which your child sleeps could put their safety at risk. There is really no way around it. This is not one of those subjects that we can budge on as sleep consultants, because it is a big part of our job to let parents know the research, the risks, and give you all the tools you need to help your child sleep not just well, but safely. Safe sleep is not always easiest, but it is always best.
So here are 10 tips for setting up a safe sleep environment for your baby:
1. Back to sleep for EVERY sleep- Putting a baby to sleep on their back keeps them from having their face pushed into their mattress. This is especially important when a child does not know how to roll over independently.
2. Firm Sleeping Surface- Using a firm sleeping surface that is free from blankets, stuffed animals, bumpers, pillows etc... A crib, pack n play, or bassinet with only a fitted sheet are all great choices for safe sleep. Unattended sleep in a car seat, bouncy seat, or any other inclined sleep tools should not be used for regular sleep. Co-sleeping in the parental bed is not recommended.
3. Breastfeed for at least 6 months if possible- Fed is definitely best, but if you do have the ability to breast feed then doing so for the first 6 months of life can aid in safe sleep.
4. Room share for first 6-12 months of life- Room sharing is different than co-sleeping. Room sharing involves the baby having a separate, safe sleeping surface which is close to parents. This close proximity helps with ease of feeding as well as ability to see/hear your child.
5. Offer pacifier at sleep time.
6. Avoid smoke exposure, alcohol, and illicit drugs both during and after pregnancy.
7. Avoid the use of monitors or products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.
8. Avoid overheating- Keep room temperature at 68-72° F. Avoid putting baby in bulky clothing.
9. Stay up to date with immunizations.
10. Practice regular, awake tummy time with baby during the day. Practicing tummy time helps baby develop neck strength and ability to make shifts to position throughout the night. This strength is especially useful when baby has learned to roll over.
All of this information can be found on the American Academy of Pediatrics website. www.aap.org.