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Safe Sleep Tips for Infants

October 03, 2016

positive sleep habits

New parents are often bombarded with advice from family and friends suggesting how to care for their first baby. It may be overwhelming to sort through the advice, especially when it conflicts with information provided by nurses and physicians. Safe sleep is one of the most critical messages that parents will receive from health professionals since the most up-to-date recommendations can mean the difference between life and death.

Since the Back to Sleep program was created in 1994, the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has dropped more than 50 percent. There is no known way to prevent SIDS, but there are strategies to decrease the risk for sleep-related deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2011) currently recommends the following safe sleep strategies for all babies under one year of age:

  • Back to sleep: All babies should be placed on their backs for every sleep, including naps. The back position provides the safest sleep for all babies, including preemies.
  • Sleep surface: Babies should sleep on a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress specifically designed for a crib, bassinet or portable play area, covered by a fitted sheet. Do not use car seats, swings or carriers for routine sleep.
  • Inside the sleep area: Loose linens or blankets, crib rail bumpers and soft objects, such as stuffed animals, should be kept out of the sleep area.
  • Room sharing: The area where babies sleep should be separate from their parents, but in the same room. If a baby is brought into an adult bed or on a sofa or chair to feed, the baby should be returned to his or her own separate sleep area after feeding.
  • Overheating: Dress babies in the same amount of layers an adult would wear to be comfortable in the same environment, with the addition of one more layer.
  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk for SIDS. If possible, mothers should breastfeed or only feed their babies with expressed milk for at least the first six months.
  • Pacifiers: Babies may be offered a pacifier for naps and bedtime, but they should not be forced to use it. The pacifier should not have any attachments, including strings, straps or stuffed animals.
  • Tummy time: Provide babies with tummy time every day when they are awake and supervised to support physical development and minimize flat spots on the head.
  • Health care: All babies should receive regular checkups and vaccinations. Evidence suggests that immunizations might offer protection against SIDS.
  • Smoke free: Babies should not be around anyone who smokes, and mothers should avoid smoking during and after pregnancy.
  • Commercial devices: Do not use products that claim to prevent or reduce the risk for SIDS, including wedges, positioners, special mattresses, in-bed co-sleepers and breathing monitors. Parents should consult with their pediatrician or the Consumer Product Safety Commission if they have any questions about these types of devices.

For more information or to request an appointment, please call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).