How to Create a Safe Sleeping Environment for Your Baby
Part of the excitement of finding out that you're pregnant and planning for your baby's arrival is outfitting the nursery. It's like a free pass to redecorate and satisfies a parent's need to nest. Whether your tastes run to bright primary colors, soft pastels or how babies see the world for the first five months — in black and white — there's (at least) one item you should carefully consider: your baby's bedding.
Sadly, more than 3,500 American infants die each year while sleeping. Many become entangled with clothing, bedding or toys placed in the crib and die of accidental suffocation or strangulation. Still others die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is an umbrella term for infant deaths that can't be explained despite a thorough investigation.
Cribs aren't the only location that babies can be in danger while sleeping. In April 2019, Fisher-Price recalled the Rock'n Play Sleeper after it was linked to more than 30 infant sleep-related deaths. These included incidents in which sleeping babies rolled onto their stomachs or sides while unrestrained.
So put the brakes on your urge to run out and buy the latest sleeper or yards of sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters and bumpers. While you may need a truckload of comfy pillows to sleep like a baby while you're pregnant, your baby doesn't need much to snooze happy and healthy.
Lullaby and goodnight.
Follow these American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for placing your baby to sleep in a safe environment:
- Always lay babies on their backs on a firm sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinette
- Use a tight, fitted sheet that won't come untucked
- Don't place blankets or pads between the sheet and the mattress (babies don't need four inches of memory foam to sleep well)
- Don't place loose, soft objects in the crib, including:
- Bedding such as blankets, pillows, quilts and comforters
- Crib bumpers
- Sleep devices, such as wedges and positioners
- Soft toys, such as stuffed animals
- Put baby to sleep in your room (but not in your bed) for at least the first 6 to 12 months
- Room-sharing decreases SIDS by up to 50%
- Don't let your baby get too hot; babies should have no more than one additional layer
than you would wear
- If you're worried that your baby might get cold, use a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack, or warm sleeper that's the right size for your baby
- Do not cover baby's head
- Make sure to schedule and keep all well-baby visits, during which your child will receive important immunizations that may protect against SIDS
Learn infant CPR.
Parents who prepare for emergencies will feel less anxious and more in control if they have to deal with one. It's a good idea to take an infant CPR class before your baby arrives. Find one at a Medical City Healthcare hospital near you.
Tia Raymond, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Medical City Children's Hospital, demonstrates the technique you'll learn in class.
How to swaddle a baby like a pro.
Swaddling can be an effective way to soothe babies under two months of age, especially those that may have trouble getting to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for swaddling correctly, including keeping your baby's hips loose to prevent dislocation or hip dysplasia.
For parents who need a visual (don't we all?), here's a step-by step video featuring an adorable baby who just loves the swaddling she got from a nurse at Medical City Las Colinas.
We don't just deliver babies. We deliver dreams. Find the right doctor for you or your baby.
Janet St. James is the Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications for Medical City Healthcare and a former award-winning WFAA-TV reporter specializing in health, harried mother of 3 teenagers and a straight-shooting breast cancer blogger dedicated to helping people lead healthier lives.