By Molly Leighton, Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach, Sleep Shore Sleep Consulting
Having a baby is an amazing experience! You become a parent and start to experience all of the incredible things about raising a child. While it can be challenging, it is the most rewarding job out there! As a parent, there are so many decisions to make. Are you going to breastfeed or formula feed? Will you share a room? Will you co-sleep or use a bassinet or crib? And the list goes on and on. One decision that can be made easily is the environment that you create for your baby. Every parent wants to provide safe baby environments everywhere they go– whether it’s playtime or a safe sleep environment, keeping your baby away from any risks is a parent’s natural instinct.
Creating a safe newborn sleep environment is essential. Just follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe sleep for infants through age 1, which reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, or entrapment. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and think this could never happen to you, but it can– which is why creating a risk-free sleep environment for baby should be guaranteed as soon as your little one comes home! There are thousands of baby sleep products that are not safe for sleep but are advertised to make parents believe they are!
Here are the important facts you need to know for safe sleep! Familiarizing yourself with these will help to keep your baby safe and will give you a piece of mind:
Sleep on back: Place your baby on her back for naps and overnight. Practice tummy time during the day when your child is awake to strengthen her neck and shoulder muscles, and follow other tummy time guidelines once your little one starts moving around more independently. This will help her learn to roll over from back to belly and belly to back. Once she can do that on her own, it is safe to leave her to sleep on her belly if she rolls on her own during sleep!
Is your newborn baby kicking legs out in their sleep? If you’re worried that your little one is kicking or fidgeting too much in their sleep, odds are you don’t have anything to worry about. With their immature and quickly-developing nervous systems, babies are prone to a lot of twitching, kicking, and fidgeting when resting. However, if any movements seem irregular or violent, seek a consultation with your pediatrician.
Independent sleep space: Your baby should have her own sleep space with a firm mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Crib bumpers, blankets, loose bedding, toys, or clothing should not be placed in your baby’s sleep environment. The AAP recommends waiting until age 1 to introduce a stuffed animal, pillow, or blanket in your baby’s sleep environment.
Pacifiers: Offering your baby a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS. Some babies are not interested or take to the pacifier so don’t feel like you have to push it too hard!
Are pacifiers safe for all-night sleep? While babies sleeping with pacifiers is a common practice and does help reduce risk of SIDS, there are a few rare factors to consider. Yes, pacifiers are safe for all-night sleep, but they can contribute to oral issues once your baby gets a little older. Middle ear infections and crossbites can develop from overuse of pacifiers– therefore, we recommend weaning your little one off of pacifiers once they’ve developed a healthy, regular sleep routine.
Room share: The AAP does not recommend bed sharing but does recommend room sharing for at least 6 months. I recommend a bassinet, mini crib, or pack and play, which allow your baby to be near you as they sleep, but not share the same sleeping space. This helps garner a protective, cozy newborn sleep environment and allows parents immediate access in the event of an emergency or if baby wakes up unexpectedly.
Room Temperature: Naturally, part of creating a safe sleep environment for babies comes down to temperature. All of us sleep better in cooler temperatures. Make sure to dress your baby in breathable clothing for sleep, which will help prevent overheating. To check your baby’s temperature, place two fingers down the back of her neck. If she is at an ideal temperature, her skin should feel warm and dry. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not go off of the monitor temperature, usually those are placed on high surfaces and read warmer as heat rises.
Try to remember the ABC’s of sleep - Alone, Back and in Crib. Place your baby in their crib alone, on their back! If you need help with assessing your child's sleep space or have any sleep questions, please reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org
Baby Brezza is proud to partner with sleep coach Molly Leighton. She can help you get your your baby on a solid schedule and achieve your goals. Contact Molly at email@example.com, visit her website at www.sleepshore.com or follow her on Instagram (@sleep.shore) or Facebook (@sleepshore)