Is Your Baby Sleeping Safely?
A Guide to Helping Your Baby Sleep Safe and Sound
- Preventing Infant Deaths from the Use of Soft Bedding
- Check Your Crib for Safety
- “Back to Sleep” and Swaddling
- What is SIDS?
- Help Keep Your Baby Sleeping Safely
- Health and Safety Resources for Parents
Preventing Infant Deaths from the Use of Soft Bedding
- Tummy sleeping and soft, fluffy or loose bedding can cause a dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide (exhaled air) around a sleeping baby’s head and face. The following guidelines can reduce the risk of suffocation:
- Place your baby to sleep on his or her back at nap and nighttime.
- Remove all soft, fluffy or loose bedding and toys (including blankets and soft bumpers) from the crib.
- Use a wearable blanket or a sleeper to replace loose blankets.
- Do not put your baby to sleep on any soft surface (sofas, chairs, waterbeds, quilts, blankets, sheepskins, etc.).
- Avoid bed-sharing; infants sleeping in adult beds are at increased risk of suffocation and entrapment.
- Educate relatives, babysitters and other caregivers about these important safety tips.
Source: Recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Older cribs may not meet current safety standards and are on the “Most Wanted” list at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Do not use any crib that does not meet current safety standards.
- Use a firm, tight-fitting mattress, so baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib.
- Inspect the crib to be sure there are no missing, loose, or broken parts.
- There should be no more than 2 3/8” (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats.
- Do not use a crib with corner posts over 1/16” high so baby’s clothing cannot catch.
- Do not use a crib with cutouts in the headboard or footboard that could entrap a baby.
- Make sure crib sheets fit snugly on a crib mattress, so they cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet.
- Do not place crib near a window or close to blind cords, which are a strangulation risk; from 1991 to 2000, CPSC received reports of 160 strangulations involving cords on window blinds.
Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
“Back to Sleep” and Swaddling
Parents are encouraged to put babies to sleep on their backs. But many parents still allow their baby to sleep on her tummy — because she may sleep sooner and longer that way — even though they know their baby is safer when sleeping on her back.
Fortunately, new studies have shown there is a way for many infants to sleep well when on their backs: swaddle them. Wrapping infants securely helps them to fall asleep on their backs, potentially reducing the risk of SIDS.
Source: The Journal of Pediatrics 2002; 141:398-404
Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, suggests that swaddling decreases the incidence of the startle reflex, in which babies frequently startle awake and cry.
Swaddling can reduce the symptoms of colic, and help baby sleep better and more safely by recreating the familiar snugness of the womb, with baby’s arms secure against her body.
Source: The Happiest Baby on the Block , Dr. Harvey Karp
SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age that cannot be attributed to other causes. Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between 2 and 4 months old. 90% of all SIDS deaths occur before 6 months of age.
As a result of the national Back To Sleep Campaign launched in 1994, SIDS deaths have declined by more than 50%. Yet, despite that success, SIDS remains the leading cause of death for infants one month to one year of age, claiming the lives of approximately 2,000 babies each year.
Scientists are exploring the development and function of the nervous system, brain, heart, breathing and sleeping patterns, body chemical balances, as well as autopsy findings and environmental factors. SIDS, like other medical disorders, may have more than one explanation – and more than one means of prevention.
Help Keep Your Baby Sleeping Safely
Some general safety guidelines to follow:
- Maintain good prenatal care for you and your unborn baby.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol while pregnant.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke near your baby.
- Put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
- Do not dress your baby too warm for sleep; keep room temperature 65-71º F; overheating may be a contributing factor in SIDS.
- Take your baby for scheduled well child check-ups, and talk to your pediatrician about changes in your baby’s behavior and health.
- Follow immunization schedules for your baby.
- Breastfeeding has been shown to be good for babies, as it builds their immunity against illness and infection.
First Candle / SIDS Alliance
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Public Affairs
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Caring for Your Baby and Child: Birth to Age 5
The American Academy of Pediatrics
Happiest Baby on The Block, The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer
Dr. Harvey Karp, MD