There is nothing more precious than watching a tiny baby, curled up, fast asleep. But let’s face it – they are the only ones getting enough sleep! As a parent or caregiver, there are several things you need to know to ensure safe, healthy sleep and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the leading cause of death in children under a year old.
10 tips to help keep your baby safe during sleep
1. Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep. Every time is important – even short naps.
2. Always use a firm sleep surface that is approved for infant sleeping. Never let baby sleep on a soft surface like a sofa or an adult bed.
3. Make sure your baby is up-to-date on all vaccines and checkups. Keeping your baby healthy will reduce the risk of SIDS.
4. Your baby should never co-sleep with you or any adult. If you bring your baby to bed to feed, always return him to his sleeping area afterward.
5. Make sure to keep yourself healthy – especially if breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS, however, germs can pass from parent to baby through a variety of ways.
6. Keep the baby’s sleep space free of all soft objects and furnishings. Do not use crib bumpers or blankets and never leave any stuffed animals or pillows in the crib.
7. Purchasing the products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS is not recommended. Wedges, sleep positioners, and similar products have not been tested for safety and effectiveness or proven to be helpful in the reduction of SIDS occurrences.
8. Babies don’t need extra layers or blankets to keep them warm for sleep. If they are comfortable during the day, they will be comfortable at night. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level for adults.
9. If your baby uses a pacifier, make sure to give them one at night that is NOT attached to a string, stuffed animal, or other types of pacifier holders.
10. Finally, give your baby plenty of “tummy time” when he is awake to help strengthen his neck muscles and reduce flat spots on the back of baby’s head.
As parents, it’s our job to do the best we can for our children and that includes providing the safest sleep environment possible. While there is no definite way to prevent SIDS, following these 10 simple tips will reduce your baby’s risk. For more information, please visit the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health website at www.nichd.nih.gov/SIDS.