Does the thought of SIDS keep you up at night? Do you find yourself hovering over your baby to check to see if their still breathing 9 trillion times a night?
Becoming a new parent is exciting, but it can also be scary. You start to worry about every little thing; their growth, jaundice, rashes, and of course, SIDS.
While there’s no 100% fool-proof way to prevent SIDS, there are some things you can do to help protect against it and other sleep-related infant deaths.
These 7 simple steps will help your baby sleep safer, so you can catch some Zzz’s too.
Back to Sleep
When the “back to sleep” campaign launched back in 1992 , the number of SIDS cases reduced by over 50%. Placing your baby on their back helps prevent them from burying their face into the mattress and blocking their airways.
Supervised tummy time is important during the day, but you should never place your sleeping baby on their stomach or their side. If they roll over on their own though, you can just leave them be.
Create an Empty, Separate Space
I know all the extra cuddles are hard to pass up, but your baby will be safer sleeping in their own space. You can still keep your baby super close by pushing the crib up against your bed or using a co-sleeper. This allows you to keep an eye on them, but cuts out potential suffocation hazards, like pillows, blankets, and rolling over on them.
Your baby’s sleep space should include a firm, flat mattress and a tight-fitting sheet, and that’s it. Avoid placing toys, blankets, pillows, and anything else that could potentially restrict your baby’s airways in their crib for at least that first year of life.
Share a Room
Current research has shown that room-sharing can reduce the chances of SIDS by up to 50%.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends keeping your baby in your room for at least the first 6 months. For the first full year is even better. And, if you want them to stay in your room longer than that, that is okay! Heck, we still have our 2 year old in our room.
All the grunts, squirms, and other little noises newborns make may make it difficult to sleep at first, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it fairly quick.
Dress Your Baby Properly
Overheating and becoming overly chilled have both been linked to SIDS. Be aware of the temperature in your baby’s room, and how you’re dressing them. Continue to monitor and feel your baby’s chest and back to make sure they’re not too hot or too cold.
As a general rule of thumb, your baby should be dressed in no more than one layer more than what you are comfortablely wearing, and the room temperature should be kept between 68 and 72 degrees.
Stop Swaddling Early
Swaddles are soothing, but it’s best to stop around 2 months old. Most babies rollover between 2 and 4 months, and really they could make their move at any moment, so keeping their hands and legs free will help prevent them from getting stuck in a position that could compromise their airways. And, of course if they rollover any early than that, you’ll need to stop swaddling then.
You could also try using a sleep sack instead to avoid your baby getting a blanket over their face when they try to wiggle out of their swaddle.
Consider a Pacifier
You may want to consider letting your baby suck on a paci at nap time and bedtime, as pacifiers have been shown to reduce chances of SIDS between 1 and 6 months of age.
While pacifier clips can be quite handy during the day, avoid attaching the paci to your baby’s clothes while they’re sleeping.
If the paci falls out while their sleeping, just leave it be.
Avoid Special Products
Many parents don’t realize this, but swings, car seats, bouncers, and even the ever-so-famous Rock N’ Play can put your baby at risk for suffocation when used as sleeping devices. You should never leave your baby unsupervised while using these.
You should also steer clear of bumper pads, crib wedges, and other sleep positioners. And, don’t bother with home-monitoring cardiovascular gadgets. They haven’t been proven to reduce SIDS and can cause false alarms and panicky parents.
Safe Sleep, Sweet Dreams
Bedtime can be scary for many new parents, but it doesn’t have to be. These 7 simple steps will help keep your baby safer, so you can get more rest.
Just keep it simple. All your baby really needs is a firm, empty, surface of their own and to be close to you.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, and a blogger for MomLovesBest.com where she writes about her journey through motherhood and gives tips for new parents to help keep their babies safe and healthy.