Advise Me

Safe Sleep Practices For Baby

New parents have enough to worry about. From nursing to naptime and everything in between, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the breadth of your new responsibilities. Our goal is to help you relax enough to actually enjoy time with baby. The first step is to understand the risks in your infant’s day-to-day.

You may have heard the statistic that each year, more than 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping, often due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS can occur suddenly and unexpectedly even to babies who are healthy.

This can be terrifying for new parents who are bringing their baby home from the hospital. You’ll sleep easier knowing that you’ve done what you can by following the ABCD’s of safe sleep:

A – Alone

Put your baby to sleep alone in their crib, bassinet or playpen.

“Though it may be tempting and often easier to sleep with your baby, especially when they are eating often, you may be putting them at risk for SIDS,” says Suzanne Clinton, registered nurse and Women and Infant Services program outreach manager at Banner Desert Medical Center. “Share your room and not your bed.”

If you have multiples, Clinton also highly discourages co-bedding. “Most experts, including AAP, recommend placing multiples in separate cribs from the start.”

B – Back

Babies should always be placed to sleep on their back, for both naps and bedtime for the first year. Avoid sleep positioners to elevate the baby, as these can post a suffocation risk for your baby. Make sure the mattress is firm and you use a tightly fitted bed sheet.

C – Crib

“The safest place for baby to sleep is in their own crib or bassinet,” Clinton says. “Keep soft objects, comforters, bumpers, loose bedding and any objects out of the baby’s sleep area as they can pose a risk of entrapment, suffocation and strangulation.”

Although tempting to use the crib from when you were a baby, it may not be safe. If you have an old drop-side crib, get rid of it. They are illegal and can no longer be manufactured, sold or even donated because of the safety risk they pose for babies.

D – Dress

Overheating may increase your infant’s risk, so be sure to not overdress baby. Keep it practical. Clinton suggests a one-piece sleeper with feet and a light sleep sack or wearable blanket. Babies usually need one more layer of clothing than we do. A good rule of thumb is if you are comfortable, baby should be comfortable too.

Additional Sleep Safety Tips

In addition to the ABCDs, Clinton shares these important tips to ensure your little one sleeps peacefully and safely:

Pacifiers can help. If you are breastfeeding though, wait to offer a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established, usually about three weeks. If your baby is not interested in it, don’t worry! You can try again another day.

Place crib away from windows and hanging items that could fall. Things like shelves, pictures or decorations may be pretty, but they could fall off the wall and onto your baby.

Don’t smoke and keep baby away from others who smoke. Babies who live with smokers are at an increased risk. Keep your home and your car smoke-free.

Congratulations on your new baby. This is a joyful time in your life, and you don’t want to spend the early years too worried. Understanding risk is the best way to manage your stress. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your pediatrician.

Parenting Children's Health Sleep