Safe Sleep for You and Your Baby | Revere Health
Sleep is very important for children, especially infants and newborns. Knowing how to keep your baby safe while sleeping, and knowing what the sleep risks are, will help both you and your baby rest easy.

Sleep Needs and Risks

Newborn babies tend to sleep about 16 hours a day, usually in periods of three to four hours. Initially, your baby may only be able to stay awake for an hour or two at a time. Over time, however, they’ll get into a sleep pattern and likely begin sleeping for longer stretches.

All babies under one year old, and particularly under six months, are at risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. This takes place during sleep, and there are a few factors that increase the likelihood of SIDS:

  • Premature birth
  • Exposure to alcohol, drugs or smoking before birth
  • Infection

Doctors are unsure if having a sibling who died from SIDS might increase risk factors. Blocked airways can also lead to sudden unexpected infant death, or SUID.  

Sleep Location and Safety

It’s important to keep your baby safe while sleeping, and a large part of safety is their sleeping location. Here are a few safety tips:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in their parents rooms for their first six months, or even up to their first year. This can significantly lower the risk of SIDS, and it makes it easier to care for the baby. In these cases, babies should never sleep in the bed with their parents—this can cut off the child’s breathing. Instead, they should sleep in a bassinet, crib or co-sleeper.
  • The baby should be placed on its back on a flat, firm surface, and on a mattress that fits the crib correctly.
  • Use a crib or bassinet that meets safety standards, and don’t use cribs with drop-side rails. If a crib is broken or missing parts, don’t attempt to fix it yourself.
  • Keep all clutter free of the baby’s bed at all times. Items like loose bedding, toys and other objects can increase the risk of the baby being trapped, strangled or suffocated.
  • Don’t let the baby sleep in a carrier, sling, car seat or stroller. This can lead to suffocation.
  • Don’t allow your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or any other soft surface. Some assume using portable bed rails is okay, but these don’t always prevent a fall out of bed and babies can get stuck in them and choke.
  • Remove any cords or wires near where the baby sleeps, as these are a choking risk.

 

Clothes and Other Items

A few tips related to clothes and other items your child might have include:

  • Dressing: Dressing a baby in a one-piece sleeper or sleep sack is generally the best choice. You can have a range of lighter and thicker options for different seasons.
  • Blanket: In general, it’s best not to use a blanket at all. A wearable blanket is a preferred alternative to keep the baby warm.
  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is a great way to prevent SIDS—multiple studies show that it lowers risk. However, do not breastfeed on a chair or couch if you are tired and in danger of falling asleep.
  • Pacifiers: Pacifiers are another item that lower SIDS risk. Wait until you know your baby is responding well to nursing before introducing a pacifier if you plan to breastfeed, and never hang a pacifier around a baby’s neck or attach it to their clothes during sleep. Once the baby falls asleep, there’s no need to place the pacifier back in their mouth.

 

For more information on safe sleep for you and your baby, speak to your doctor.

I practice the full range of family medicine including obstetrics, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, adult medicine and some orthopedics. I also perform colposcopy, cryotherapy and vasectomies. Due to the volume of deliveries we do, my practice has evolved to be more centered on women and children’s medicine, although I enjoy all aspects of family medicine.

Sources:

“Safe Sleep for Baby.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-prep-17/slideshow-safe-sleep-for-baby

“Safe sleep for your baby.” March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/baby/safe-sleep-for-your-baby.aspx

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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