Safe Sleeping Tips for Babies – Frequently Asked Questions

June 10, 2021

Sleeping baby in pajamas

The following are some frequently asked questions and answers on how you can help your baby sleep safely in a crib, how to reduce the risk of SIDS and why “back is best” for a sleeping infant.

What is safe sleep for babies?

Safe sleep is a nationwide initiative to ensure infants’ safety while sleeping. In particular, the program recommends that babies sleep on their backs and that parents create a safe sleep environment for babies.

What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of an infant under the age of 1. It also is known as “crib or cot death.” Safe sleep helps reduce the risk of SIDS and promotes the use of a safe sleep environment. The Safe to Sleep campaign has a myth/fact sheet about SIDS with more information.

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

A safe sleep environment includes placing infants on a firm mattress in a crib or bassinet without stuffed animals, blankets, clothing and other potentially safety hazards. Aside from your infant, there should be a tight, fitted sheet over the mattress and nothing else in the crib or bassinet. Bed sharing is not recommended; however, room sharing is recommended. Bumpers or other soft items are not recommended for use in cribs with infants under the age of 1.

If you have questions regarding your baby’s sleep environment meeting current standards, please visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Why is it not safe for infants to sleep on their stomachs or sides?

According to Safe Sleep Academy, when infants sleep on their stomachs or sides, there is a risk of breathing in their own exhaled breath; this is referred to as the rebreathing theory. Air can be trapped around an infant’s nose and/or mouth, causing the child to breathe in exhaled carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. If an infant cannot respond or turn away, this could lead to respiratory distress.

Watch this video for more information on the rebreathing theory.

What is a wearable blanket?

A wearable blanket is a blanket that is secured with a zipper or that snaps around your infant. It is an alternate to having a loose blanket, which could pose a safety hazard. Cribs for Kids offers wearable blankets that are “bell-shaped to allow the baby to kick their feet and are sleeveless to help reduce the risk of overheating.”

To help, some wearable blankets have reminders that say “Back is Best” or “ABC – Alone on my Back in a Crib.” Additionally, wearable swaddles have “wings” that allow the baby to be wrapped securely.

How does Good Shepherd Pediatrics follow safe sleep?

The Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Emily Howatt Pliskatt Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a “Gold Certified Safe Sleep Champion” for a commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep. Good Shepherd Pediatrics is committed to following the gold standard recommendations for our patients. We follow and update the Safe Sleep Policy routinely to ensure infants are provided with safe sleep environments during their admission to the Pediatric Unit.

We also provide ongoing education to parents and caregivers, as well as offer in-services to the community to promote and advocate for safe sleep environments. If you would like more information or would like to have a Safe Sleep In-service provided to your community/company, please contact us or call 1-888-44-REHAB to schedule.

Reviewed by Kendall Shelly, MS, OTR/L, of Good Shepherd Pediatrics.