What is Safe Sleep and How Can I Make Sure My Baby Has it?
In many parenting circles you will hear the term “safe sleep” tossed around a lot. Your doctor, postpartum doula, or lactation consultant may mention it as well. But what does it really mean?
Spend time in any mom group on social media, and you may start to think that it's subjective, or that anything goes as long as there's an adult within earshot. But you might feel relieved to know that it's actually a well-researched set of universal guidelines that any parent can read and follow! The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is responsible for researching and educating on the health of babies and children, has provided excellent standards of safe sleep to avoid accidents and suffocation for infants. Let's break it down.
Your baby's mattress should be flat, firm, and covered only by a tightly-fitted crib sheet. It should not hold any blankets, pillows, toys, or other objects – just your sweet little baby wearing pajamas or a sleep sack for warmth! Your baby should not sleep on a couch, water bed, nursing pillow, etc.
Baby holding gadgets can pose suffocation risks, so a crib or bassinet is the only recommended sleeping surface for a baby. Ensure that the mattress fits tightly in the crib with no gaps, and that the crib is flush against the wall. The slats of the crib should be tightly spaced to avoid possible entrapment issues.
According to the AAP, placing an infant to sleep on their back is the safest positioning. This is recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS. A good swaddle can be very helpful for babies who aren't super excited about being laid down on their backs.
While it may sound strange, all that cute fancy crib bedding in the catalogs may actually help more than hurt. Bumpers, blankets, comforters, sheep skins, and pillows are best kept until your child is older. These items can all potentially cause suffocation risks to an infant who doesn't yet have the ability to roll over and lift their head easily. If you're concerned about your baby being warm and cozy in bed, try putting a sweet pair of footie jammies on, followed by a sleep sack.
Is it Okay to Co-Sleep with My Baby?
Many of our clients have asked us if we think it is safe to co-sleep. However, there is some different terminology here to be aware of. When most people think of co-sleeping, they are really thinking of bed-sharing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends co-sleeping (the child sleeps in the parent's room) for up to one year of age to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, they do not recommend bed-sharing. Parents who bed-share regardless of this recommendation should ensure that there are no pillows or bedding near the baby, that no one in the bed has consumed alcohol or used any tobacco, drugs, or medications.
The AAP recently updated their guidelines to clarify that they consider it safer to lie down in bed with your breastfed baby, rather than to risk sitting up with them in a chair and falling asleep while holding them.
Here's an easy recap of this information, for safe sleep at a glance:
LAY BABY DOWN ON BACK
ON A FLAT, FIRM MATTRESS
IN A CRIB FLUSH WITH THE WALL
WITH NO BLANKETS, PILLOWS OR TOYS.
You can further ensure your baby's safety during sleeping by keeping their room cool, and using a monitor when you are not by their side. Milwaukee Newborn Care observes all safety measures when providing our overnight newborn care services.