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Creating Healthy Sleep Environments for Babies and Infants

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Creating Safe Sleep Environments

In these early weeks and months of your child’s life, your goal should be to establish a healthy sleep foundation. The first step in establishing healthy sleep routines is ensuring that your baby’s sleep environment is safe. One of primary reasons for this is to reduce the chances of SIDS.

SUID (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death) is a term used to explain the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under the age of 1 in which the cause is not obvious before investigation. SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome fall underneath this larger “umbrella” term and accounts for over 2,000 deaths per year. While this topic is never easy to discuss, it certainly motivates us to think about the sleep environment as a key to prevention.

So how can you set up your child’s sleep environment to be safe? Here are a few things I suggest:

· Firm sleep surface (mattress)

· Use a safe crib that is “newer” and up to safety codes

· No pillows or blankets in the crib

· No bumpers (not the “breathable” ones either!)

· No toys in the crib

· Make sure sleep clothing fits well and is not too hot

· Put your baby down on their back (no belly sleeping at this age)

· A swaddle (avoid hip wrapping as it may lead to hip dysplasia) when done correctly or a sleep sack is fine

· Your baby should be in their own sleep space (no bed sharing)

· Remember the ABCs: Alone, Back, Crib

A few other things we know support prevention efforts include:

· Breastfeeding when possible

· Vaccinations

· Pacifiers

· Tummy time

· Keep your child’s dress light to avoid over-heating (feeling the baby’s ears or neck will let you know if the child is too hot; feet or hands are not always reliable)

· Don’t rely on products that claim to prevent SIDS (e.g., foot monitors, mattress monitors) as they are not 100% reliable and make you less alert to your baby’s needs

· Keeping your child’s room at a good temperature (between 68-72 degrees)

· Remember room share NO bed share (AAP recommends room sharing with children until the age of 1 if possible)

· Be aware of product safety! There are many products out there that claim to be safe for infant sleep. Do your research and be aware of recalled items. A few examples of items that are not safe for infant sleep include:

o Dock a Tots

o Rock N Play

o Weighted swaddles (anything weighted can put pressure on your child’s chest and impact breathing)

o Co-sleeping nests

o Sleeping in car-seats NOT in the car (when car seats are not secured in the car the position changes and you risk positional asphyxiation)

o Sleeping on nursing pillows

o Baby head pillows

o **A great resource for recalled items is:

Dr. Hampshire

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