Safe to Sleep

Welcoming home your new baby is one of the most exciting (and exhausting and overwhelming!) experiences you will have as new parents. There is so much to learn about being a parent, and getting to know your baby is both emotional and rewarding. You will learn how to feed and nurture your baby during their quiet awake time, and how to calm and soothe them when they cry. One of the most common activities your baby will experience, however, is sleep! Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to help your baby sleep. Safe sleeping habits will help prevent sleep-related causes of death, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation.

The simple phrase “Back is Best” is an easy way to remember the best sleeping position for baby. The use of positioners or wedges is not necessary and may be unsafe. The baby’s sleep surface should be a firm sleep surface, one that is approved specifically for this. It should be covered with a fitted sheet, and soft objects such as toys or loose bedding should not be in the baby’s sleep area. If a pacifier is used, it should not be attached to anything. If you are breastfeeding, it is best not to use a pacifier until baby is at least three weeks old.

The room temperature should be comfortable for an adult. Dress the baby in no more than one layer of clothing; no more than an adult would wear to be comfortable. If swaddling is used, safe swaddling techniques should be practiced.

Room-sharing is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, and has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. The baby should not, however share a bed directly with you. This is often called bed-sharing, and may increase the risk of accidental suffocation.

We all know that smoking, illegal drug use, and excessive drinking are unsafe practices for adults. Avoiding these behaviors entirely is important as parents, and should never occur around babies, especially when they are sleeping.

It will often seem that your new baby does not sleep very much, given the exhaustion and sleepless nights you will come to know! Safe sleep, however, is one of the most critical things you can provide your new little one. Talk to your pediatrician to learn more about how you can practice safe sleeping techniques for your baby. Here’s to many happy night-nights!

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