It is essential to provide your baby with a safe and comfortable sleeping position and environment because this is vital to your baby’s health.
Recommended sleeping position
According to the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), healthy infants should sleep on their backs for the first year of life for safety. Infants who sleep on their backs are at a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a condition that affects approximately 4,000 infants yearly in the United States.
The risk of SIDS is believed to be the highest within the first 6 months of life, so placing your infant on their back during this time is important for their safety.
Since these recommendations were made in 1992, there has been a noteworthy decrease in SIDS-related deaths. However, infant deaths caused by suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia have also been increasing.
On that note, it is best to speak with your pediatrician to see which sleep position is best for your baby based on factors such as medical history. At times, other sleeping positions may be suggested.
Providing your infant with a safe sleep environment is just as important as the position that they sleep in. Certain steps can be taken to ensure you are providing your infant with the safest sleeping environment possible, as well as reducing the risk of SIDS.
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Other safety measures
Recommended safety measures include:
- Place your baby on their back for sleeping and encourage supervised tummy time when they are not sleeping
- Offer your infant a pacifier when sleeping
- It is best to place your baby on a firm mattress without bumper pads
- Cover your infant’s mattress with a fitted sheet
- Avoid any loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, comforters, bean bags, waterbeds, sofas or soft mattresses
- Do not use blankets to cover your infant and avoid covering the baby’s head, instead using sleep clothing such as sleeper sacks or a one-piece sleeper outfit
- Ensure your crib is safety-approved
- Avoid the use of wedges and positioners
- Babies can sleep in the same room as their parents but on separate beds
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature, avoiding drafts and overheating
- Avoid placing your baby too close to air conditioning or heating vents
- Avoid expose your baby to secondhand smoking
- If room sharing, do not let your baby sleep on your bed, couch or chair
- If your baby is not sleeping in a crib all of the time, use a bassinet or portable crib and apply the same safety measures
- It is not recommended to use SIDS reduction monitors or devices.
The risk of SIDS may also be reduced by immunizing your baby as recommended and by breastfeeding. Some mothers may choose to bed-share with their baby to promote prolonged breastfeeding, but bed-sharing is not generally recommended.