Safest Baby Sleeping Habits
For safest sleeping, babies should sleep on their backs. In 1994 the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) launched the Back to Sleep campaign. For the last 17 years the message has spread and the vast majority of parents now follow that recommendation. During the same time, the infant death rate from SIDS has decreased by approximately 55%. Both the NICHD and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continue to recommend that all babies be placed on their backs every time they sleep.
Safe Sleep Top 10
Fortunately, the number of infant deaths in Nevada County is low, but several in recent years have been at least partially attributable to unsafe sleeping conditions. Parents, grandparents, childcare providers, and others who care for infants are reminded to always provide the safest sleeping environment for infants. Based on current research, the NICHD recommends the following “Safe Sleep Top 10”:
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts. Babies should begin to sleep on their backs in the newborn period.
- Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety‐approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. Never place your baby to sleep on pillows, quilts, sheepskins, or other soft surfaces.
- Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area. Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or pillow‐like crib bumpers in your baby’s sleep area, and keep all objects away from your baby’s face.
- Do not allow smoking around your baby. Don’t smoke before or after the birth of your baby, and don’t let others smoke around your baby.
- Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children, but he or she can sleep in the same room as you. If you bring your baby into bed with you to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or a bedside co‐sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished.
- You may offer a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it. (If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your child is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)
- Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
- Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for safety or effectiveness. This includes sleep positioners intended to keep your baby from turning over. (Some have actually been shown to be dangerous.) Never put pillows, sleep positioners, comforters, or quilts under the baby or in the crib.
- Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other conditions talk to your health care provider.
- Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head: provide “Tummy Time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching; change the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next; and avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, swings, and bouncers.
In addition to the NICHD recommendations, take the following steps to provide your baby with the safest sleeping environment:
- Breastfeed your baby. A recent study has shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS at all ages during infancy.
- Do not allow your baby to have drinks or food in the crib. Bottles or cups should never be propped and babies should always have adult supervision while they drink or eat.
- Regularly check your baby’s crib for safety. Check for loose, missing, or broken parts or slats, and never try to fix a broken crib. Keep cribs away from all cords – this includes cords from window curtains or blinds and electrical cords, such as those on baby monitors.
The goal is for every Nevada County infant to live in the safest possible environment, avoiding preventable injuries and deaths. Awareness and willingness to change old habits will help keep babies alive. Safe sleep environments can reduce the number of families in our local communities that suffer the tragedy of an infant death.