Bedtime Basics For Babies – Safe Sleep Saves Lives

As a new parent, one of the most important decisions you will make is where your baby will sleep. Thousands of babies die in their sleep every year. At this time, there is no known way to prevent all sudden infant deaths (SUIDs), but experts believe 80-90 percent of these deaths are the result of unsafe sleep practices. The following information will help you keep your baby safe from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and accidents during sleep.

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Room Sharing NOT Bed Sharing! The safest place for your baby to sleep, for at least the first six months, is in a crib that meets the current safety standards placed near your bed. Adult beds are not safe for sleeping babies! Babies who sleep in adult beds are as much as 40 times more likely to die than babies who sleep on their backs in a safe crib. Soft bedding, such as pillows, blankets and quilts increase your baby’s risk for SIDS and suffocation. Adults or other children in the bed can accidently roll too close to or onto your baby while he sleeps. Babies can get trapped between the mattress and the wall, headboard, footboard or another piece of furniture, or your baby could fall from the bed and get hurt. Bed sharing with your baby is even more unsafe if you smoked during pregnancy or if you or your partner smoke now, your baby is less than 11 weeks old, your baby was born too early or at a low birth weight, or if you or your partner have taken drugs, alcohol or medications that make you sleepy. Falling asleep with your baby on a couch or armchair is very unsafe and other adults, children or pets should never share a sleep surface with your baby.

Create a Safe Sleep Zone. Your baby should sleep in a crib, on a firm mattress covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Use a wearable blanket or other type sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm. Toys, quilts, loose blankets, crib bumpers, wedges, positioners and stuffed animals should never be used in your baby’s sleep area. Always place your baby on her back for sleep! Remember to follow these guidelines even when you are visiting away from home or traveling.

Breast milk is best for your baby’s health. It’s OK to nurse your baby in bed, but when it’s time to go to sleep, be sure to place your baby back in his or her own, separate, safe sleep area!

Offer a Pacifier. Research shows that pacifiers can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS if used during the first year of life. Offer a pacifier at every nap time and nighttime. Don’t worry about putting it back in your baby’s mouth if it falls out after he or she falls asleep. Pacifiers should not be used as a substitute for nursing or breastfeeding. If your baby refuses the pacifier, don’t force him or her to take it. And, never use a string or clip (or anything else) to attach a pacifier around your baby’s neck or to clothing during sleep.

By Kelly Neal Mariotti
Chief Executive Officer
First Candle

The content provided above was developed and copyrighted by First Candle and reviewed by a national panel of experts.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

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