5 Infant Safe Sleep Tips

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“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is a piece of advice you’ll probably hear a lot as a new parent.

But how can you rest assured that baby stays safe as both of you slumber?

“Sleep is critical for the development of a baby—-and they’ll need plenty of it,” said Dr. William Hamilton, Mon Health OBGYN. “Mom needs rest to recover as well. Even though you can’t watch baby 24/7, there are ways you can make sure baby is safe and sound as both of you get some much needed rest.”

As an estimated 3,500 babies die annually from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in the United States due to unsafe sleep situations, Dr. Hamilton says it’s critical for new parents to study up on safe sleep guidelines prior to bringing baby home from the hospital.

Dr. Hamilton shares the following tips for new parents, backed by recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  1. Share a room for at least 6-12 months. Studies show that room-sharing decreases SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) risk by up to 50 percent. Baby should sleep on a separate sleep surface such as a crib, bassinet or certified co-sleeper that attaches to mom’s bedside.
  2. Always place baby on back for sleep. Baby should always be placed to sleep with the face turned upward until the baby is able to roll from front-to-back and back-to-front on his or her own.
  3. Clear the sleep area of everything except for baby. Eliminate any pillows, stuffed animals, toys, blankets, loose bedding and any other suffocation or strangulation hazards.
  4. Try to breastfeed. Studies show breastfeeding, especially throughout the nighttime, significantly lowers the risk of SIDS.
  5. Try pacifiers. Once nursing has been established, see if baby will accept a pacifier for sleep. Pacifiers have also been shown to decrease SIDS risk.

The AAP includes additional guidelines for infant sleep, which can be found here.

Experts Discourage Bed Sharing

The safest place for baby to sleep is in a separate space of his or her own. If possible, bed sharing (when baby shares the same sleep surface as mom) should be avoided.

Dr. Hamilton adds that sleep deprived new moms who are worried they may fall asleep while nursing should take extra precautions.

Additional guidelines warn mothers to never nurse baby on a couch if you are sleep deprived, and never run the risk of bed sharing if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, or drowsy medication.

For more birth and baby related resources, visit the Mon Health Family Birth Birth Center online.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hamilton.