How to create a safe sleeping environment for your baby!
The topic of safe baby sleep is a touchy one amongst parents. There are a lot of mixed feelings and advice.
Some moms say to put your baby to sleep in any position comfortable for you and for baby. And then there are moms who want to do everything possible to keep their baby safe while sleeping.
Which mom are you?
With such conflicting advice out there on where and how baby should sleep, so you up deciding it just doesn’t matter.
As long as your baby sleeps, right?
The problem is that, when it comes to safety, we often don’t believe something will happen until we have actually seen it happen.
We need to stop waiting for something to happen to our babies before taking the necessary steps to protect them.
The fact is, there are parents who have experienced the heartbreak of their baby dying in their sleep. Not knowing why it has happened is the saddest part.
But do you know what’s the most painful part?
Knowing you could’ve done something to try and prevent it. Yes, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Safe sleep guidelines are there to help parents reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to their babies.
Yes, sometimes things happen just because they happen. But again, sometimes incidents occur when we could’ve done something to prevent them.
The challenge is that, at this point, the cause of SIDS is unknown.
However, there are unsafe sleep practices that have been identified to increase the risk of SIDS.
This post is going to discuss those unsafe practices and give you steps you can take to help you make sure you are putting your baby to sleep as safely as possible.
Safe Baby Sleep Practices
The following are the guidelines you can follow to keep your sleeping baby safe:
Best Place For A Newborn Baby to Sleep
The best place for your baby to sleep is alone, in their own cot. This can be in the baby’s room (after baby turns 6 months old) or you can place the cot in your own bedroom.
Co-sleeping with baby comes with a lot of risks and if possible, it’s best to avoid it. However, most moms feel baby sleeps better when they co-sleep. If this is you, read this guide on co-sleeping with baby before you decide.
Avoid putting your baby to sleep on a couch. You will also want to avoid snoozing with your baby in your arms. The risk is that your little one’s head won’t be positioned well for sleeping and this could block their airways while sleeping.
Furthermore, you could easily drop your baby while asleep.
Parents should also not put their babies to sleep on a car seat. The same goes for letting baby snooze in a sling, bouncer, or swing.
The position your baby sleeps in on these items is not ideal and is not in line with safe baby sleep practices.
This brings us to the next point…
Safe Position for Baby to Sleep
Always put your baby to sleep on their back. Not on their tummy, and not on their side.
Let your little one sleep on their back until they reach a stage where they can roll over by themself. Usually between 4 to 6 months.
Even when your baby starts rolling over on their own after you put them to sleep on their back, remember to continue placing them to sleep on their back.
Most parents swear that their baby sleeps better and longer on their stomachs. It’s true, but there is a reason for that…
A baby sleeping on their stomach goes into such deep sleep that it becomes difficult for them to rouse themselves even when struggling to breathe.
Putting your baby to sleep on their stomach is actually one of the most common tips given to first-time moms. Unfortunately, it is not always safe.
Besides, tummy sleeping increases the chance of diaper leaks at night.
What about putting your baby to sleep on the side?
To be honest with you, I always used to put my daughter to sleep on her side. I was worried that she will choke on her vomit if she sleeps on her back.
In the end, I learned that my baby is actually less likely to choke on her vomit while sleeping on her back, compared to when sleeping on her side. Yeah, we learn as we go.
If you are worried about reflux, get a mattress lift wedge and tuck it under the mattress so your baby’s upper body gets elevated. The same way they put them when you are still at the hospital.
Getting a mattress lifting wedge really rescued me with my little one’s reflux.
Adopt the back sleeping position until your baby reaches at least 1 year old. For their safety, and for your sanity.
What Should a Newborn Wear to Sleep
I often made the mistake of overdressing my little girl when she went to sleep. Especially on chilly days.
And the result?
She was always sweating under those layers.
The thing is, I would always judge based on how cold I was feeling, then I’d add layers for her.
The problem is that babies aren’t as good at regulating their temperature as we do. It took some practice to get to know how many layers my baby could wear while sleeping.
An old trick is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers you are wearing and add an extra layer. However, sometimes even with this, your baby could still feel hot or too cold.
So how can you tell if your baby is too warm or too cold?
Signs that your baby is too hot:
- Your baby is warm around the neck, forehead, or chest. Use the back of your hand to feel. Once you can feel that the skin is damp, it means she is sweating from overheating.
- Baby has red cheeks and looks flushed.
- Baby is restless while sleeping. I caught this one at a later stage!
- Your baby’s hands and feet are too warm.
- Your little one’s skin feels clumsy to the touch.
Here is how to tell if baby is too cold:
- Again, feel the stomach and back. If they are too cold, baby is feeling cold.
- Hand and feet are way too cold. Not cool, cold!
- Baby starts sneezing for no reason.
- Your baby is irritable.
Firstly, don’t overdress your baby and consider ditching the hat when you put them to sleep. Avoid using multiple layers of clothing and blankets to try and keep your baby warm.
Consider making use of a baby sleep sack. Choose a warm one for winter and a lighter one for summer.
You should also not feel the need to use baby mittens. Although there isn’t enough evidence to prove that mittens pose any threat to a sleeping baby, they still have disadvantages.
Read this post on the pros and cons of baby mittens.
Rather swaddle your baby if you feel their hands are too cold.
If still in doubt, you can cover your baby with a cellular blanket. It’s lighter than fleece blankets but enough to keep your baby warm.
Just remember to not cover your baby all the way up to their shoulders with the blanket. Tuck it under their underarms.
Creating a safe sleeping environment for baby
Use these extra safe baby sleep tips to improve your baby’s safety when sleeping:
- Don’t put soft animal toys, cot bumpers, pillows, and soft bedding in the cot when putting your baby to sleep. Avoid hanging heavy mobiles over the cot that could fall over your baby.
- If you are using a blanket to cover your baby, tuck the blanket on the sides and only cover up to the underarm level to prevent the blanket from ending up on your baby’s face.
- You may also want to put the baby’s feet at the lower end of the cot so they don’t drift down under the blanket if ever she moves while sleeping.
- Do not place your baby’s cot next to curtains or blinds. They fall under the category of the most dangerous safety hazards in your home. The same goes for drawers and dressers that can tip over onto the cot.
- I always made sure my little one doesn’t sleep close to the window, just in case for some reason the window breaks and all that glass falls onto her cot while sleeping.
- Avoid using a second-hand mattress. It could contain bacteria, dust mites, and mold. The mattress might also not be firm enough for the baby to sleep comfortably. The only ideal time to use a second-hand mattress is if you know its lifespan (i.e. you used it for your older baby and know you took good care of it). Read baby items you should never reuse for your baby’s safety.
- If you swaddle your baby and put them to sleep, discontinue swaddling once your baby can roll over on their own. Keep a lookout from when your little one is 3 months old. Remember to follow proper guidelines for swaddling.
- Breastfeed for as long as possible. There are studies that suggest breastfed babies are easily aroused from sleep compared to babies who are not breastfed. This reduces the risk of SIDS. However, If your baby is formula-fed, continue to follow correct safe baby sleep guidelines to keep your baby safe.
- Use a pacifier/dummy to reduce the risk of SIDS. Again, studies suggest that the use of a pacifier when a baby is sleeping significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. Even when a baby is exposed to other risks from unsafe baby sleep practices like the use of cushions or soft blankets, stomach/side sleeping, or smoking.
- Don’t expose your baby to smoke. Babies that are exposed to smoke (and second-hand smoke) are at a higher risk of SIDS compared to babies who are not exposed to smoke. Don’t smoke while pregnant, and after giving birth. Keep your baby away from smoking areas and don’t allow people to smoke around them.
Are You Practicing These Safe Sleeping Tips?
After going through this post, I’m sure you will agree with me that it’s important to always put your baby to sleep, in a safe way.
It’s also very easy.
You don’t need to buy any special devices and equipment, bed, cot or bedding.
You simply have to follow the guidelines and eliminate habits and items that make your baby’s sleeping environment unsafe.
Simple, isn’t it?
Take those steps mommy, and give yourself peace of mind.
What is your take on safe baby sleep? Are you practicing these guidelines or missing some of them?
Let me know in the comments.