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8 Ways to Help Ensure Baby Sleeps Safe and Sound

Babies are irresistibly snuggly. If you have a newborn, cuddling is an important part of being a parent.

One time when cuddling is not a good idea is during the night when both you and baby are sleeping.

You may hear about bed-sharing. It’s when you and your baby sleep together in the same bed. It’s important to know, doing this can put your baby at risk for suffocation.

About 3,500 babies each year die suddenly and unexpectedly. SIDS is when the cause of a baby under age one cannot be explained after a thorough investigation.

Unfortunately, many cases of baby deaths can be traced to unsafe sleeping practices. Unsafe sleeping practices increase the risk of death due to SIDS and suffocation. Accidental suffocation causes a significant number of baby deaths. It can occur when the baby is sleeping face down or being covered by a heavy blanket or pillow. In some cases, babies have even been found between sofa cushions.

Another cause of suffocation is a sleeping parent in the same bed rolling over on top of the baby. Since the baby has soft bones and little muscle control, they can succumb relatively easily to even minor airway obstruction or pressure on their bodies.

What Is a Safe Sleeping Environment for Baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers these recommendation for infant sleep safety:

  • Babies should sleep on their backs for naps and at night. If baby is comfortable rolling both ways – back to front and front to back – you don’t have to return the baby to the back-down position.
  • Room share but do not bed share. Your baby’s bed can be in your bedroom for the first six months to one year. Room sharing makes it easier for you to feed, comfort and monitor your baby. Room sharing can reduce the risk for SIDS.

    To help ensure baby has a good bed to start, Aurora Health Care is giving a new Baby Box to new parents who deliver at select Aurora birthing facilities.

    The Baby Box is a non-toxic, chemical-free heavy-duty cardboard box with a mattress and fitted sheet.

    It provides a safe sleeping environment for baby’s first several months of life. Aurora is also including diapers, wipes and toiletries for baby.

  • Use a firm sleeping surface. A bassinet, crib, portable crib, Baby Box or play yard that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards are good choices. Your baby’s separate bed should have a mattress that doesn’t indent when baby is lying on it. It should be topped by a tight-fitting sheet made to fit the mattress. It’s important that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys or bumper pads around your baby that could cause air flow blockage.
  • Don’t put your baby to sleep on a sofa, couch or armchair. Loose cushions are a danger for your baby. As we mentioned, be sure there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys or bumper pads around your baby when they sleep.
  • If your baby falls asleep outside of bed, move your baby to bed as soon as you can. Your baby might fall asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier or sling. If they fall asleep in these types of locations, move them to bed when you can.
  • Bring your baby to your bed only to feed or comfort. Babies should be put in their own beds to sleep. If you might fall asleep with baby, be sure no pillows, sheets, blankets, pajamas or other items could cover your baby’s face, head or neck. Take care that your baby doesn’t overheat, since you’ll be sharing body heat.
  • It’s fine to swaddle your baby. Make sure your baby sleeps on her or his back. Swaddling shouldn’t be too tight or make it hard for baby to breathe.
  • Using a pacifier at nap time and bedtime helps reduce the risk of SIDS. It’s alright if the pacifier falls out of their mouth when they fall asleep.

More About the Baby Box

The idea of giving new parents a Baby Box started in Finland 75 years ago. Giving Baby Boxes is credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. Baby Boxes meet AAP and U.S. Product Safety Commission regulations. More than 300,000 babies will sleep in a Baby Box in 2017.

Your health care professional can give you more guidance about parenting skills that can keep your baby safe and sound.

If you have questions about topics such as postpartum care and breastfeeding, help is available.

Meet the Author

Kevin J. Dahlman, MD is a pediatrician and the head of Aurora Children’s Health in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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