Home with new baby: Creating a safe sleeping environment

Home with new baby: Creating a safe sleeping environment

Last month we discussed an overview of what to expect your first week home with new baby. This month we will be going more in depth into some concerns new parents have when caring for their newborn.

From the moment you bring a new baby home, it is essential that you focus on creating a safe sleeping environment for your infant. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 alone more than 3,700 babies in the U.S. died while sleeping from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death or SUID, a broad category that includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). These deaths are often sudden, unexplained and about 25% of them eventually contributed to suffocation or strangulation from improper sleeping environments.

The more you know about safe sleep environments, the lower your child’s risk for accidental sleep injuries. The following recommendations are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and are recommended for babies up to one year in age.

Babies Should Always Sleep On Their Backs

Your child should be sleeping on their back up until they turn one year old. This includes naps. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to succumb to SIDS.

While some parents encourage their babies to sleep on their sides out of fear of their baby choking, this is not the best sleeping situation for your infant. Babies have a natural airway anatomy that prevents them from choking while laying on their back, and infants who sleep on their sides are more likely to roll on their stomach. If your child does turn, place them on their back again.

Note: If your infant falls asleep in a stroller, swing, carrier, sling or car seat, it is recommended that you move them to a firm sleeping surface where they can sleep on their back.

Set Up The Right Crib

The right crib is instrumental to your baby’s sleeping success. Every infant should have a firm sleeping surface with a tight-fitting, fitted sheet and nothing else. Pillows, blankets, crib bumper pads, stuffed animals, and toys should never be in your infant’s sleep quarters. Babies can accidentally roll onto these items, which can block their airflow and cause accidental suffocation.

Share Your Room With Your Baby

Your infant should not be sleeping in your bed with you during these formative first months, but their crib should be in your room. This should continue for the first six months at minimum or up to the first year. The AAP recommends this because it can significantly reduce the risk of SIDS and can make tending to your baby in the middle of the night much easier.

Do Not Let Your Baby Sleep on Other Furniture

Adult beds, sofas, armchairs, ottomans, couches, futons and chairs are never suitable places for an infant to sleep. They can be dangerous.

Swaddle Your Baby Appropriately

There is some discussion on swaddling in the parent community, but it is fine to swaddled your infant. Pay close attention to how you are swaddling; your baby should always be on their back. Your swaddle should not be so tight that the baby can’t breathe or move their hips. This is a common issue parents have when swaddling. As soon as your child looks like he or she is trying to roll over, it is time to stop swaddling.

Consider a Pacifier

Pacifiers are great even for young babies because it can help reduce the risk of SIDS. You should only start using a pacifier once breastfeeding is going well, usually at about two weeks of age. Some babies like pacifiers and others don’t. If the pacifier does fall out after your baby falls asleep, there is no need to put it back in.

Your baby needs plenty of rest during these formative first months of life. Make sure your child is sleeping in as safe of an environment as possible with these helpful, proven tips on safe sleeping strategies. If you have questions about newborn care or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.