It is important for parents and caregivers to educate themselves on safe sleep practices for babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating a safe sleep area for babies can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
Here are some common questions with recommendations to help keep your baby safe while sleeping:
Is it safest to put babies to sleep on their backs?
Yes, it is best for your baby to sleep on their back in order to keep them safe from SUIDS, which is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (or SIDS) and other sleep-related infant death causes. Some accidental death causes include suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation in the bed. Laying your baby on their back in the middle of the bed is the safest because it helps reduce these accidental causes of death.
Is swaddling safe?
When swaddling isn’t done properly, it can cause a risk to your baby. If a blanket would come loose or undone due to an improper swaddle, your baby could accidentally get their face covered by the blanket. At The Women’s Hospital, we recommend a sleep sack because the baby’s arms are secure in the armholes, and then you can zip them up. The sleep sack provides a nice warm place to sleep, and you don’t have to worry about the bundling coming undone from a loose blanket.
What should be in baby’s crib?
Your baby should be sleeping on a firm surface like a mattress in a safety-approved crib. A sheet needs to be tightly fitted around the corners of the mattress in the crib. Keep pillows, blankets, any sheepskin, soft toys and crib bumpers out of your baby’s bed. There should be nothing in the crib that can cover your baby’s head. Even if grandma makes a nice blanket, while it’s actually very beautiful, it shouldn’t be put in your baby’s crib right away.
Can a baby sleep with a pacifier?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a pacifier for sleep as it will help reduce the incidence of SIDS. However, it is also important to consider that you may not want to offer a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established; usually around 2-4 weeks old. If your baby is not breastfeeding, you can try introducing a pacifier earlier.
Is it safe for a baby to sleep in its car seat?
It is best for your baby to sleep in their crib to establish a routine. If your baby is in the car and falls asleep in the car seat, that is fine for a short period of time - but once you are back home, it is really best to put your baby in their crib. Babies should not be sleeping in their car seats for extended periods of time.
At what age can you start sleep training a baby?
As soon as you come home from the hospital with your baby, you can start sleep training. It will help your baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep training is also necessary to help get your baby on a schedule for naps. Getting your baby on a routine sleep schedule will benefit you and your baby!
Is there an infant sleep safety class available to parents in this area?
The Women’s Hospital offers a class called “From Pregnant to Parent” which offers education for parents on sleep training and safe sleep with their baby. Topics include recommendations for cribs, clothing, and how to use the sleep sack you receive after delivering your baby. It also covers how you can share a room, but should not share a bed with your baby. Your baby can sleep in your room so that you can hear the baby when they wake or if they have feeding cues, but do not share a bed with your baby. So, room sharing without bed sharing is very important for sleep safety.
Should you ever let a baby just “cry it out”?
Most babies feel best if they are rocked or cuddled to sleep. They will be able to sleep better and most likely get to sleep sooner when rocked or cuddled. If your baby is fussing and crying in their bed, then the possibility of them rolling over and getting in an unsafe position would be higher. So, letting your baby “just cry it out” isn’t always the best idea. They may have episodes where they are just a little more grumpy or fussy than usual, and some crying can be expected as they go to sleep – but excessive crying and “crying it out” is not usually recommended for an extended period of time.
For more information on safe sleep for babies, the following trusted sources are available: