Safe Sleep Practices and SIDS Prevention

Safe Sleep Practices and SIDS Prevention

As a parent, there are so many things we worry about throughout our children’s lives. We worry about whether our baby has eaten enough or if he needs a jacket when he plays outside. We worry about things like if our child is happy or if he’ll make good choices in life. And as parents of a newborn, we worry about sleep. The irony here is that one of our biggest worriesour as a parent isn’t likely when  baby is screaming his head off, but when our newborn is sleeping peacefully.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS is a horrifying reality that affects over a thousand American families each year. It is the leading cause of death in babies under the age of 1, but 90% of SIDS deaths occur in babies under 6 months of age.

While SIDS only occurs in babies 12 months or younger, this doesn’t mean you should renounce safe sleep practices after your little one’s first birthday. There are many things parents can do to prevent SIDS during the first year of life, the high-risk period, and beyond.


During your baby’s first year of life, you can reduce the risk of SIDS by:

Room-share for the first 4-6 months

The most recent research by the AAP recommends room-sharing for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Your baby should have their own sleeping space but nearby so that you can quickly and easily assess and attend to your baby in the middle of the night. There has also been new research that has shown that while the risk of SIDS significantly drops at 4 months, the rate of unsafe sleep practices and less nighttime sleep increases after 4 months when room-sharing.


Lay your baby on their back to sleep

While it may be true that you slept on your stomach when you were an infant, research has shown that placing an infant on their stomach to sleep increases the risk of SIDS two-fold.

When babies are placed on their stomachs, there is an increased risk for their airways to be blocked if the end up face down in the mattress. And with an immature motor function and weak head, neck, and trunk muscles, it is difficult for young infants to turn their head and clear their airway. So please, back to sleep; playtime is for tummy.


Ensure safe sleep environment

You don’t need much but a firm, flat surface and your baby. I know, it sounds uncomfortable or maybe even boring, but this is the safest sleep environment for your little one.

The crib should be bare, with the exception of a tightly fitted sheet. Avoid loose bedding, soft objects, and crib bumpers. These all greatly increase the risk for entrapment, obstructed airways, suffocation, and carbon monoxide rebreathing.


Avoid the use of commercial devices that are unregulated for safe sleep

There are a ton of products on the market that promise or imply that your baby will sleep better or be safer if you use said device. It can be tempting to rely on loungers, positioners, swings, wedges or other co-sleeping apparatus, but these products are largely unregulated. They are not designed with safe sleep in mind and should only be used during supervised awake periods.


Ask for help

Sleep deprivation is real and when you are sleep deprived as a parent you will do just about anything to get just a little more sleep,  and unfortunately sometimes that comes at the expense of your little one’s safety. It’s so easy to rely on commercial products that make the promise of better sleep. It’s tempting to bring your baby in bed with you in the early morning hours because that’s the only way she’ll sleep after a feeding. And you know this isn’t safe sleep practices.


After your baby’s first birthday, continue to:

Place them on their backs

“Back is best” still applies. Most pediatricians and sleep experts agree that it okay to leave babies on their tummy once they call roll from back to tummy on their own as long as they are no longer swaddled (please check with your own pediatrician).


Stick to firm sleep surface

Ensure that your baby’s sleep surface is flat and firm. This will keep them safe in any sleeping position, whether they are tummy sleepers, side sleepers, or always rolling around. You should continue to avoid sleep in swings, loungers, etc.


Keep the crib bare

The AAP recommends that the cribs stay bare for at least the 12 months of life (and many experts recommend beyond). If you’re concerned about your baby being cold while sleeping, consider using a sleep sack as an alternative to lose blankets.


Safe sleep is non-negotiable. Your child’s life truly depends on it. It is possible for your child to sleep well and sleep safely. Sleep coaches, like me, help families do this every day. Contact me today to schedule your FREE 15-minute Discovery Call today.

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