You finally have your newborn in your arms, and one of the first things you will realize is that you are now in charge of this helpless little baby. As a parent, you now have the responsibility of making sure that you keep the little one safe at all times, and that includes while it sleeps.
In the first few months, your infant will sleep a lot. Unfortunately, there can be dangers during this time. In fact, more than 3,000 babies die in the U. S. yearly during their sleep. These cases fall under the sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS and accidental deaths due to suffocating.
Such deaths can actually be prevented, by taking a few steps to keep the baby safe. This is why there are guidelines or tips on how to avoid SIDS.
Put Your Baby to Sleep On The Back
Statistics support the fact that babies who sleep on their backs for both naps and during the night are significantly less likely to die suddenly compared to those who sleep on their sides or stomachs. Even lying on the side is risky because the baby might suddenly roll onto their stomach.
Although some parents might worry about choking while sleeping in this position, especially if the baby suffers from reflux, there is actually no risk because of the natural gag reflex and how the baby’s anatomy is designed.
Medical staff should place newborns close to the mother as soon as possible after the delivery. This is recommended for the baby’s first hour of life. Afterward, they should always be laid down on their backs. Some premature babies might require sleeping on their tummy because of some issues with breathing, but this should only be done when necessary. As soon as they overcome these problems, they should start getting used to sleeping on their back.
If your baby tends to roll on its stomach, place him or her back on the back whenever possible. If he or she is used to rolling from back to tummy and back, then you don’t need to do this. Just ensure that there are no items in the bed like pillows, bumpers or blankets around. This way, there is no risk of your little one from being covered or smothered when he or she rolls.
Use Only an Appropriate Sleeping Surface
Beyond providing babies with a comfortable place to rest and sleep, a good crib and mattress are vital in keeping them safe. A firm mattress is important because it does not indent. This keeps the little one sleeping on the back always. In fact, sleeping on anything that is not flat and firm, like a couch or other types of bedding is very dangerous. If the baby rolls from the surface, then it is definitely not suitable.
You should also keep their beds free from other things like stuffed toys that can choke them. Even blankets can be risky if it can cover the baby’s face. Opt instead for a sleeping sack.
Swaddling is becoming a common practice these days, especially newborns because it calms the baby down by making it feel like it’s back in the mommy’s tummy. This is not hazardous while sleeping so long as they are not able to roll onto their stomachs yet. Once they do, it is recommended to stop swaddling as soon as possible. Make sure that you do not keep them too tightly packed so that the little one can still breathe and move his or her hips. Have a look at our list of recommended baby cribs from reputable manufacturers.
Room sharing Is Good, Bed-Sharing Is Not
For the first year, it is always advisable to keep your infant sleeping in the same room, close to the parents’ bed. By being in the vicinity, the risk of SIDS can go down by 50% because you can watch out if the baby rolled or is covered by a blanket, for example.
However, it is recommended that the baby sleeps on his or her own bed. This reduces the chances of the parents’ blankets or pillows, or even the parents themselves, from suffocating the infant. Though there may be guidelines to co-sleep safely, the risks are still lower when the parents and kids have separate beds.
Dress The Baby Warmly
Another risk for the baby while sleeping is overheating. Putting on too many layers so that he or she becomes too hot is very dangerous. As a guide, just add one more layer than you have on. Do not cover the head because this does not allow for the infant to cool itself down. Even if the baby’s feet or hands feel cold, do not worry, this is nothing unusual for little ones.
The sleeping environment should also help avoid overheating. First, make sure that air can flow in and out of the bed or crib without obstruction. Second, keep the room at a cooler temperature especially during the night to keep the baby from being too hot. Ideally, it should be at around 64°F.
Do Not Smoke
Exposing your baby to second-hand smoke can increase the risk of SIDS, even if you move away to smoke. Moreover, do not bed share when you are a smoker and do your best to avoid lighting up during the pregnancy. As much as possible, keep the little one’s environment, even the car, free from any cigarette smoke.
Breastfeeding is Still Best For Babies
Studies have shown that breastfed babies are at a much lower risk of SIDS. In fact, they are about 50% less likely than bottle-fed infants. Therefore, it is recommended to continue giving them breast milk for the first 6 months of the baby’s life, whether direct from the breast or expressed.
These steps are actually quite simple and very easily done by parents who want to keep their little ones safe and healthy at all times. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry especially since they are unable to protect or save themselves in case they are at risk.