- Everything you need to know about safe sleep for infants
- Co-sleeping: Putting the controversies to rest
If you are a new mom or are expecting your 1st child, you’re probably being hit with a lot of information right now. Odds are you’re also being hit with a lot of exhaustion right now too, so I’ll keep this brief. I’ve read recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) and Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) with regards to the safest sleep practices for newborns and will list their recommendations in bullet points.
The reason behind recommendations for safe sleep practices is simple; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), crib death, cot death. Call it what you will, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Arming ourselves with recommendations supported by peer reviewed research can help us to take the necessary steps to minimize the risks.
HSE, CPS and AAP all recommend the following for night sleep in infants:
- For the first 6 months of life, our babies should sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room as us.
- They should sleep on a firm surface with nothing but a fitted sheet on the mattress.
- There should be no blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in the crib with the baby.
- The baby should be placed to sleep flat on their backs.
- Swaddling is fine but parents need to be sure they’re following safe swaddling practices.
- Swaddling should stop once the baby shows they’re learning to roll over.
- Baby should not be too warm. Be mindful of the temperature in the room and dress the baby for sleep accordingly.
Now that I’ve listed the experts’ opinions on safe sleep practices for infants, I’ll interject with my own on-the-job experience. Some babies just won’t sleep flat on their backs. This could be for a variety of reasons: reflux, gas, personal preference, who knows. As a mom of an infant who hated sleep, my heart goes out to the parents who are trying to retain their sanity while following the recommendations listed above. Here are some of my real-life tips for surviving the newborn phase while still practicing safe sleep habits:
- Get a good white noise machine and put it as close to your baby as possible without putting it in the crib.
- Warm the crib sheet before you try to lay the baby down on it. I would pull a towel fresh out of the dryer and place it in the crib for a few minutes, then remove it before I put the baby down.
- Newborns have a strong sense of smell and are comforted by their mother’s scent so I would sleep with the crib sheet for a few nights before I put it on the mattress.
- For the babies who sleep better at an incline, you can buy a crib wedge to go under the mattress to safely allow for a little extra comfort.
Finally, the best advice I can give is to remember that it’s all temporary. As hard as it is, it is temporary. The good night’s sleep, the bad night’s sleep, none of it lasts long. As parents we just do our best to keep our babies safe and to keep ourselves going, and that’s all anyone can expect of us.