A baby’s first few years are a whirlwind of joy, trouble, and rapid change. Caring for a baby is a full-time job, and sometimes it continues even after they fall asleep. Caretakers need to consider their child’s sleep position, bedding, development, and many other factors.
Babies can face a range of sleep issues, so it's completely normal to have tons of questions about infant sleep safety.
The ideal sleep position for babies has been a point of debate for countless years. Thanks to many studies and reports, health experts learned several decades ago that laying an infant on their back while sleeping dramatically reduces the risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.
Even if the baby spits up, their bodies and gag reflex will prevent them from choking, so there is no need to lay the baby on their side or stomach.
Everyone wants their babies to be comfortable when sleeping, so the temptation to put in some soft blankets or pillows can be extremely powerful. However, parents should keep sleeping areas free of any of these objects, as well as soft toys or bumper pads.
While these fluffy additions might seem harmless, they increase the risk of overheating or suffocation.
Just as soft blankets and pillows are not safe for babies, a too-soft surface is also risky. All infant sleep surfaces should be firm and flat, with no inclines or angles. Safety-approved cribs are the best choice. Soft areas may seem more comfortable, but they are more likely to cause dangerous issues.
It is natural for a parent to want their baby to sleep with them, especially since it can make getting the infant to sleep much easier. Unfortunately, adult beds are often softer than safe infant sleep surfaces. They also have heavy blankets and pillows that are dangerous for a sleeping child.
Instead, let the baby sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room until they are at least six months old.
Babies adore crib mobiles, especially if they have bright colors and varied shapes. As long as these items are out of reach of the baby, they are completely safe. However, once the child is strong enough to pull up in the crib, parents should remove any mobiles to avoid choking hazards.
Most babies hit this milestone around five months old.
Infants love repetitive, rhythmic motions, which means they will often doze off in car seats, swings, carriers, and strollers. This is safe for short naps every once in a while, and it is tempting to leave them where they lie so they don't wake up, but parents should move their infants to a flat, firm surface once they're home.
Portable carriers should not become go-to areas for naps due to an increased risk for sleep-related deaths.
Some babies will move in their sleep and roll onto their stomachs. Always start a baby on their back. However, if they have the strength to roll onto their stomach on their own and are comfortable sleeping in that position, there is no need to move them back.
Keeping the sleeping area clear of anything that might block airflow is particularly important for babies who like to roll around.
While it might seem strange, a pacifier is one of the best ways to protect a baby from SIDS and other sleep problems. Experts are not even entirely sure why this happens. Once a newborn is at least three to four weeks old and has an established breastfeeding routine, it is safe to let them sleep with a pacifier.
Even if the pacifier falls out, the benefit is still there. Make sure to not put the pacifier on a necklace or attach it to the baby in any way.
Having multiple babies can be extremely expensive, so parents try to save money anywhere they can. One of the most common ways they do this is by letting several children sleep in a single, large crib.
However, most experts recommend keeping babies in separate beds or cribs until they are one year old, though some evidence points to it being safe at any point after six months.
Many companies advertise products with claims that they can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related issues. Examples of this include monitors that track breathing or heart rates, as well as positioners, wedges, and special mattresses.
Little to no evidence supports using these products. Rarely, these items have even directly caused dangerous issues.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.