Top 10 Safe Sleep Tips From the Professionals.
Safe sleep is important for your baby’s health and wellbeing. And, safe sleep for baby starts with you.
As a parent you cannot help but constantly wonder if you are doing the best thing for your baby. Unfortunately, they don’t have the ability to directly tell us what they want or need. This can heighten our anxiety as a new parent when they get fussy.
We all want to do what is best for our new little one. And most important, we want to make sure they are safe. If you are anything like me, some of your most anxious times are when your new little bundle is fast to sleep.
In this article, the experts at SafeSleep® share our top 10 safe sleep tips. These tips help you create a safe sleep environment for your sleeping baby. It is important for the entire family to get a good night’s sleep. Knowing your baby is sleeping safely, will help mom and dad sleep better.
We will share our top ten safe sleep tips that you can put into play right away regardless of if your baby has arrived yet or is coming soon. It’s important to state that parents’ habits play an important role in baby sleep safety.
Your little one will spend a lot of time sleeping, so make sure their sleep space is a safe one.
Top Ten Safe Sleep Tips
1) Make sure your baby’s crib is safe
2) Choose a firm crib mattress
3) Ensure proper fit of your crib mattress
4) Choose a safe crib mattress
5) Keep crib free from clutter
6) Use a wearable blanket
7) Don’t bed share
8) Give baby a pacifier
9) Daily tummy time
10) Avoid dangerous sleep products
Safe Sleep Tip #1 – Make Sure Your Baby’s Crib is Safe
Your biggest purchase will most likely be your nursery crib. Fortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set strict standards to ensure that cribs on the market today are strong, durable, and safe for your baby.
We do not recommend using a second-hand crib that is over 10 years old. The hardware and joints on an older crib could be prone to cracking or breaking, and screws are more likely to loosen up.
Additionally, the wood and glue can warp or become brittle, too, which can set the stage for joint or slat failures down the road — potentially while your little one is sleeping.
Check the crib to make sure the slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches wide. Also make sure the slats or other wood parts are not cracked or missing. The measurement from the top of the crib mattress platform to the top of the rails should be at least 32 inches. Make sure the corner posts line up flush with the top of the rails or are taller.
Finally, the corner posts should line up flush with the top of the headboard or be much taller — more than 16 inches. Posts in between these heights could catch your little one’s clothes if he tries to climb out. You want to make sure there is nothing protruding that could catch your baby’s clothes if they attempt to climb out.
Tip #2 – Choose a Firm Crib Mattress
Soft crib mattresses are not safe for your baby. The two big risk factors associated with soft crib mattresses is both suffocation and rebreathing of carbon dioxide. A soft mattress can cause your baby’s face to compress should they end up face down. They also can retain a baby’s exhaled air – carbon dioxide. A baby doesn’t have to be face down to be at risk of rebreathing carbon dioxide. For example, a baby sleeping on their tummy, especially if their arm or hand is close to their face, is at risk of rebreathing carbon dioxide. Fiber filled crib mattresses and mattresses with plastic or plant-based core materials are known to trap carbon dioxide. The folds of sheets can also trap carbon dioxide. Quilts and quilted surfaces are also a “no-no” when it comes to keeping carbon dioxide away from a sleeping baby.
If your crib mattress requires a sheet, make sure it fits the mattress tightly. Stay away from quilted toppers or mattress protectors, they also trap carbon dioxide. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents against their use.
Firm, Yet Cradling Crib Mattress
Your baby’s crib mattress does not need to be rock hard or uncomfortable. The SafeSleep® crib mattress is the perfect combination of safe and comfort. It’s firm but has no positional pressure to negatively affect your baby’s delicate bones. SafeSleep® is the only crib mattress that is firm to keep your sleeping baby safe, but also cradles to promote added comfort and longer sleep.
How is this possible? The SafeSleep® is the only crib mattress that has no fill or core materials. It was designed by a leading pediatrician and a mom to address all the safety risks, sanitary and comfort issues associated with conventional and other breathable crib mattresses.
The SafeSleep® is firm and strong enough for an adult, but it’s strategically designed for an infant through Kindergartner. Your little one will have years of great sleep before they outgrow their SafeSleep®. It works great in a toddler bed. Not to mention, it’s the ideal solution for bedwetters.
Tip #3 – Ensure Proper Fit of Your Crib Mattress
The mattress should fit snugly against the inside of the crib. To ensure your crib mattress has a proper fit, place two fingers down the side of the crib mattress and the inside of the crib to make sure there is not gap larger than 1 inch. You want to make sure a baby’s small limbs cannot get trapped between the side of the mattress and the crib.
A full-size crib mattress – standard crib mattress – should be at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 1/4 inches and be no taller than 6 inches.
Tip #4 – Choose a Safe Crib Mattress
We all know back is best. However, tip number 4 addresses when you baby begins to roll over. It’s important to realize that your baby can begin to roll as early as two months old. Normally, a baby begins to roll around four to six months old. You want to make sure they are safe if they roll in the middle of the night. The creators of the SafeSleep® crib mattress found out the hard way what can happen when a baby rolls in the middle of the night on a fiber filled crib mattress.
Since one of the founders is a leading pediatrician and policy maker, the design of the SafeSleep® breathe-through crib mattress addresses all the risk factors associated with infant sleep related deaths including both suffocation and rebreathing.
A Crib Mattress Your Baby Can Breathe Through
No matter when your baby begins to roll, it’s a good idea to always put them to bed on a mattress they can breathe through. Since the SafeSleep® is tested showing 100% oxygen rich air while a baby is breathing face straight down on the SafeSleep®, you can rest easy knowing your baby is safe.
SafeSleep® is the only crib mattress pediatricians and respiratory therapists write prescriptions for infants who must tummy sleep for health reasons.
If your baby rolls onto their stomach at night, a breathable mattress — like The SafeSeep® Breathe-Through — will help reduce the risk of suffocation and rebreathing
Tip #5 – Keep Crib Free from Clutter
To provide your baby with the safest possible sleep, keep all toys, pillows, blankets, and crib bumpers out of the crib. Your baby will spend a significant time in their crib, so you want to make it a safe haven.
Unfortunately, crib sheets can pose a safety risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a tight-fitting sheet designed for your specific mattress. However, crib mattress manufacturers are not sheet manufacturers. It’s difficult to know if the specific sheet brand you have matches up to the crib mattress you have.
The safety issue with sheets is they can become loose or even slide off the mattress. A loose sheet creates pockets that can hold carbon dioxide making it easier for a baby to rebreathe. Sheets that slide off the mattress become a strangulation and suffocation risk.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning caregivers about the dangers of loose or oversized sheets in babies’ cribs. Since 1984, CPSC has learned of the deaths of 17 babies, most under 12 months old, who suffocated or strangled when they became entangled in sheets in their cribs or beds. Two of these deaths were with fitted crib sheets.
While crib mattress sheets may seem more sanitary and even cute, your safest option is a crib mattress that does not require the use of sheets or other bedding. No sheets are used on the SafeSleep®.
The good news is, you can easily remove the sleep surface of the SafeSleep® for easy machine washing and drying. And unlike any other crib mattress, there is no fill or core to wash. An open-celled topper is firmly suspended over an open base that facilitates constant and uninterrupted airflow.
The locking bar system makes it simple to remove the topper for washing and also have access to the base for a simple wipe down. By design, the SafeSleep® is the most hygienic sleep available for your baby.
When the unexpected — yet inevitable — nighttime diaper leak happens, you’ll be glad you can throw all of your baby’s bedding in the wash without thinking twice. You will be even happier knowing the leak travels through the sleep surface, so your baby is not laying in a wet or damp spot. The topper dries in minutes by air. You can also keep an extra topper on hand to use while you’re washing the messy one.
The fact liquids easily pass through the topper, is an added safety feature. You don’t have to worry when your baby spits up. The spit up is wicked away through the topper away from your sleeping baby. Other crib mattresses pose a danger since spit up will puddle on the surface. The SafeSleep® is not waterproof. Instead, it has no fill or core that needs to be protected. It’s a revolutionary design in safe sleep for baby.
Tip #6 – Use a Wearable Blanket
Blankets are not recommended for babies since they can pose a strangulation, suffocation, and rebreathing risk. Consequently, we recommend stocking up on wearable blankets. They are an important part of safe sleep for baby.
Remember, wearable blankets come in different weights for different seasons. You want to dress your baby in one additional layer than what you use at bedtime. For example, if you have cotton pajamas on and have a sheet and a thin blanket for bed, you should dress your baby in a onesie, a pair of cotton pajamas, and a thin wearable blanket.
Wearable blankets also come in swaddle designs. We recommend you stop swaddling around four months old or sooner if your baby shows signs of beginning to roll.
The Woombie wearable blankets are a great option. They come in many weights and have different features including transforming from a closed-arm swaddle to an open-arm sleep sack.
Swaddles are designed to keep your baby from having startle reflexes that can wake them. The scientific term is Moro reflex but is commonly referred to as the “startle reflex.” This reflex is an automatic or involuntary reflex in newborns and infants in which a baby suddenly flings her arms sideways with her hands flexed, throws out her legs, extends her neck, and just as suddenly brings her arms together. Involuntary reflex can wake your sleeping baby.
We don’t recommend swaddling with blankets as they can become loose. They have also been linked to hip dysplasia in infants. Therefore, we recommend the Woombie since it is designed to eliminate the issues associated with swaddle blankets.
Tip #7 – Don’t Bed Share
There are many peer-reviewed published studies proving bed sharing isn’t safe. I get it, you’re a nursing mom and you’re exhausted. Putting your baby in bed with you might seem like a convenient thing to do to keep them close for nighttime feedings. It may even seem like a great way to bond with your baby. But the science tells us it’s just not safe.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have your baby in bed with you for some cuddle time and to nurse. We just suggest when you feel sleepy, you put your baby back in their own safe space.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing for at least the first six months of your baby’s life — ideally for the first year. However, we question these recommendations since they are based on studies in Europe and other countries where parents have 6 months to a year’s paid leave with new babies and customs and norms are drastically different than in the U.S.
We suggest having your baby in the same room as long as it is convenient. And don’t feel guilty putting your baby in their own room if it promotes better sleep for you.
Tip #8 – Give Baby a Pacifier
The AAP recommends giving your baby a pacifier while they sleep. However, if you are breastfeeding, wait until your newborn has gotten the hang of nursing before offering them a pacifier. This is usually around one month old. After they are nursing successfully, give your baby a pacifier when you put them down for bedtime as well as naptime.
Don’t stress if your baby refuses a pacifier. It’s ok. Don’t force it.
Never put your baby to bed with a strap or clip attached to their pacifier. Pacifiers with straps and clips attached to clothing can be both a choking and strangulation risk.
If your baby’s pacifier slips out of her mouth during the night, don’t worry. There’s no need to disturb your sleeping baby to put it back in if they aren’t crying.
Tip # 9 – Daily Tummy Time
Tummy time is important for safe sleep for baby. Why? It helps your baby develop and gain the strength they need to roll over and have good neck and head control. These are important functions in keeping baby safe while sleeping should they roll over.
Tummy time can sometimes give parents anxiety since there is so much importance put on “back sleeping.” We recommend using a breathe-through crib mattress for tummy time like the SafeSleep®. You can feel secure knowing that when your baby does struggle to lift their head while on their tummy – which will happen – they can still breathe normally.
Make sure your baby is not sleepy during tummy time. Your baby should be wide awake and so should the supervising adult.
Tip #10 – Avoid Dangerous Baby Sleep Products
Most parents believe that if a baby product makes it to the shelves of their favorite store, it must be safe. Sadly, this is not the case. Many infant deaths have been linked to unsafe sleep products.
Your baby should never sleep in an inclined position. This rules out sleeping in car seats, swings, rockers, and other inclined positioned products. We get that your baby will most likely fall asleep in the car while you are driving. Once you reach home, don’t let them remain asleep in their car seat; transfer them to their crib.
The SafeSleep® was designed by a pediatrician and has gone through scientific testing to ensure its safety. Unfortunately, there are not many regulations dictating the safety of crib mattresses.
Breathable Crib Mattresses
Avoid breathable crib mattresses with air-permeable covers with fiberfill or core material. These types of mattresses are shown to retain higher levels of carbon dioxide than standard crib mattresses with no air-permeable cover.
According to Dr. Ron Somers, “ With many of the so-called air-permeable mattresses, the carbon dioxide (being heavier than air) sinks into the mattress, and it is then sucked up by the baby for rebreathing. In other words, the carbon dioxide does not dissipate. This has been determined by a special test using a mechanical baby that in and out like a real baby. If a manufacturer will not show you their results on this kind of test, don’t fall for their safety hype. Other types of testing, which simply confirm air permeability, are not a substitute for the mechanical baby test.”
Here are the test results of the SafeSleep® using the mechanical baby test. You can also view the unsolicited endorsement the SafeSleep® received from Dr. Somers after we sent our breathe-through crib mattress to him for firmness testing. Dr. Somers is the creator of the crib mattress firmness test. He is a leader in child safety policy and reform.
Bumpers and Pillow or Stuffed Sides
Bumpers and baby products with pillow sides or bottoms are considered unsafe for sleep. Avoid anything that is fiber filled your baby can get their head close to. Your baby does not have to have their face pressed against a fiber filled object to get in trouble. Fiber filled objects, as stated prior, retain carbon dioxide your baby can rebreathe.
Additional Safe Sleep Tips for Baby
It’s best to breastfeed your baby if possible. Studies show breastfeeding is protective against SIDS. However, if you cannot breastfeed, don’t stress.
Avoid Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking
Stay away from drugs, alcohol and smoking. It’s important you stay alert for your little one. You never know when a crisis could arise, and you don’t want to risk being non-functioning when your baby needs you the most.
Smoking around babies is a big no-no. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes “substantial evidence” to conclude that moms who smoke have an increased risk of their babies succumbing to SIDS Further, the AAP warns against exposing a baby to smoke both during pregnancy and after.
Regular Pediatrician Visits
Make sure you have regularly scheduled pediatrician visits. Even if your baby seems perfectly healthy, there are things your pediatrician can detect that could go unnoticed.
Follow the AAP’s recommended vaccine schedule. Believe me, there is a lot of science and research that has gone into this schedule. Years of research by scientists who are top in their field have developed this schedule to ensure every baby is properly protected and at the correct time. Don’t believe reports that are unsubstantiated or that are not peer-reviewed when it comes to vaccine schedules.
Further, there is no scientific evidence to substantiate that vaccines cause SIDS. On the contrary, there is evidence supporting vaccines may be protective against SIDS. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Multiple research studies and safety reviews have looked at possible links between vaccines and SIDS. The evidence accumulated over many years does not show any links between childhood immunization and SIDS.”
Keeping your baby save while sleeping can be a relatively easy task if you follow these top ten tips. Make sure you choose a safe crib. Also make sure your mattress is safe and it fits properly in your crib.
Using a SafeSleep® breathe-through crib mattress takes the guesswork out of keeping your sleeping baby safe. It also promotes a more sanitary and healthier sleeping environment for your baby.
Avoid the use of crib sheets if possible. SafeSleep® eliminates the need for crib sheets based on sleep related incidents involving crib sheets.
Keep all items out of your little one’s cribs including blankets. Wearable blankets are a great way to keep your baby safe and warm. Try using a pacifier.
Do give our baby supervised tummy time. Don’t bedshare or use unsafe sleep products. Remember parents, we don’t get a “do-over.”
Lastly, breastfeed your little one if you can. Avoid alcohol and drug use and smoking. Get regular checkups for your baby and follow the AAP’s vaccine guidelines.
When you follow these safe sleep tips, you can rest knowing that your precious little one is sleeping as safely as possible. Safe sleep for baby starts with you.