Safe & Sound: Safe Sleep Guidelines for Newborns
Safety during sleep can be a major source of anxiety for new parents. How many new mothers haven't woken up in the middle of the night, only comforted by seeing the rise of and fall of their baby's chest as they sleep?
While you can't always stay awake to watch them sleep (no, seriously, you need sleep, too!), there are certainly some actions you can take to make sure that your baby is safe throughout the night and nap times.
Before we start summarizing the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics we want to be clear that here at Bluegrass Baby Co., we support real life parents. That means that we understand that real life parents aren't perfect and may make choices against these recommendations based on what they believe is best for their families. Some parents bed share. Some parents use rock-n-plays for naps. Some parents doze off in bed with their baby. The point of this is not to shame those very normal parents, but to provide this information to the parents that want to use it to make their own informed decisions.
Now that that's covered:
the basics OF SAFE NEWBORN SLEEP are as simple as "a, b, C"--
Babies should sleep alone on their own sleeping surface. That means no bed sharing with parents or siblings, no stuffed animals or toys in the crib or bassinet, and no blankets, bumpers or loose fitting sheets. This is mainly to reduce the risks of suffocation.
Many families that end up bed sharing either do so out of convenience for middle of the night wake ups and feedings or as a way to bond with their baby based on their parenting philosophy. One way to do something similar while still staying within the AAP guidelines for safe sleep is to have a bassinet very close to the bed in your bedroom, or to use a side-car co-sleeper that is directly next to your bed but still gives baby their own sleep surface.
Note that the AAP does recommend sharing a room with parents for as long as possible, just not a bed.
Back to Sleep:
Babies should be placed flat on their back when put down for sleep, rather than on their sides or tummies. Research found that if infants were placed to sleep on their stomachs, their risk of dying from SIDS increased by at least two-fold, which lead to the "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1994, which has significantly reduced the rate of SIDS.
Now, one thing you may have heard is that babies sleep better on their tummies. And while this is true, it's also the reason for this recommendation: one theory is that babies sleep so well on their bellies that they aren't able to rouse or make adjustments if their oxygen levels drop.
So when can your baby sleep on their belly? When they're old enough to roll themselves there. That means there's no need to keep going in and rolling them over if they keep rolling themselves onto their tummies--they're safe! Also, note that once your baby starts rolling or reaches 3-4 months in age, you should stop swaddling them to sleep. Consider using a sleep sack instead.
Babies should only be put to sleep on a flat, firm surface in products labeled "crib" , "bassinet", or "play yard". These labels are regulated by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and fall within their guidelines for safe sleep. Cribs that are older than 10 years old or that are broken are modified in anyway are also considered unsafe.
Two extremely popular sleep products that are not considered safe sleep environments based on these guidelines are the Rock 'n Play, and the DockATot. Even for supervised naps, these are considered safety risks. The issue with the Rock 'n Play (and extended sleep in an infant carseat, for that matter) is that because of the incline, the baby's head can become positioned in such way that can cause their airway to close off. As for DockATots... well, that cushy, cozy pillowy softness can present a suffocation hazard, hence the "firm" part of the official recommendations.
beyond the basics: other recommendations from the AAP
- While many parents use couches and recliners to avoid falling asleep in bed with their baby, falling asleep in a couch or recliner with your baby can actually be more dangerous
- Avoid baby's exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices, including wedges or positioners, marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development.
oNE WAY TO KEEP BEDTIME SAFE: OVERNIGHT HELP
Listen. No one creates "unsafe" sleep habits for the sake of breaking the rules and risking their baby's health. The truth is, most times parents are doing whatever they can to get their baby to sleep and to get some sleep themselves. And when you're depleted and sleep deprived, it's a lot harder to consider the safety of your situation. That's completely understandable, and why we present all of this information with no shame or judgement for the choices you make in the real life environment of your home.
One thing you may consider if the sleep choices you're making are making you anxious, but it's the only way you can sleep is overnight newborn care. Our team of Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists are well versed in safe sleep guidelines, so you can rest assured that your baby is being taken care while you can just focus on sleeping.
The real bonus? We can help get your baby accustomed to safer and healthier sleep habits so that you can place them in their crib safely on the nights we aren't there, and still get sleep.
And if you're bed sharing with your older infant or toddler simply because it's the only way that your baby can sleep, but you aren't sleeping a wink? Our sleep training services can offer a solution to that.
ready to sleep safe and sound? learn more about our overnight newborn care and sleep training services.