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Tips on Safe Sleeping for Little Babies

. Positioning. The "Back to Sleep" campaign is well known for greatly reducing the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ("SIDS") deaths in the U.S. You may still see some people positioning healthy, full term babies on their sides for sleep. People who do this may not be aware of the most current information. Side lying is fine for playtime, when you're watching your wide awake baby, but when he sleeps, he should be on his back. Lying on the back is twice as safe as lying on one side or another. One reason is that the side lying position can be unstable, and a baby can easily roll onto his tummy. Sleeping in another position is okay only if your baby's pediatrician orders it for a serious medical reason.

. B.Y.O. bedding. The baby's whole sleep environment, whether at home, at someone else's home, in a day care setting or in a hotel or motel, should be carefully planned to reduce the risk of SIDS. That may mean bringing safe, correctly sized bedding along whenever your baby sleeps away from home.

. No soft bedding. That means that soft bedding, including thick blankets, quilts, bumper pads, sheepskins, pillows, and stuffed toys should be avoided, and should not be in the basket, bassinet, crib or other sleeping area. A thin blanket tucked in snugly at the foot of the bed is recommended.

. Sheets should fit snugly, and be neither too tight nor too loose. Poorly fitting sheets can come off of the mattress too easily, and infants and children can get entangled in them. A mother whose son suffocated while entangled in a loose sheet designed some safety crib sheets, which slide onto the mattress like a pillowcase and have a flap with a hook and loop closure. They come in a variety of sizes and are sold online.

. Avoid excessive warmth. The sleeping area should be comfortable, around 70F. A baby should not be overdressed to the point that he is hot and sweaty. Lightweight, snug fitting sleepers are ideal for the warmer months. Blanket sleepers are recommended for cooler months, instead of a thick quilt or blanket.

. Bassinets and Moses baskets can provide cozy, adorably sweet, portable sleeping environments for your baby while he's so tiny that he can sleep there surrounded by plenty of space. When he gets bigger, his face can easily end up next to the side or top of the sleep space, potentially making breathing more difficult. It's important for baby to move up to a bigger bed when he gets bigger. If you have two babies, it's safest to transition to two baskets or bassinets as soon as the babies are bigger and sleeping either close to each other or close to the side or end of the basket or bassinet.

. Co-sleeping baby beds are designed to allow baby to sleep close to mom and dad while protecting him from overlying and from falls. There are many pros and cons. Babies love being close to mom and dad, and some babies decide early on that a little bed attached to mom and dad's bed is much too far away, and are not able to settle down and sleep in the co-sleeper bed. The co-sleeper beds tend to be big. The bed forces the adjacent parent to crawl to the bottom of the bed to get out of bed, so positioning it next to a mom who is recovering from a cesarean section is not recommended.

. Cribs and playpens at home or away from home should meet the criteria that are most important to you. First, they should meet all safety criteria on the CPSC and National SAFE KIDS Campaign web sites.

. Smoothly operating, quiet drop sides. Cribs with two drop sides are most convenient to position. Sides that can be raised smoothly, quietly and with one hand are nice, because they allow you to lower the side, set a sleepy baby in bed, and raise the side without waking her up. Some cribs without drop sides have sides with hinged upper sections that fold down, and could possibly pinch fingers and hands. Those cribs are not recommended.

. A mattress that's quick and easy to change will save precious time. The later the hour, and the more you will appreciate this feature. Sometimes the crib design or items attached to the crib ends or sides can slow the process severely.

. A mattress that lowers quickly and easily. Some babies as young as 4 or 5 months of age amaze us all by learning to pull themselves up to a standing position. When you see a baby moving in that direction, it's time to lower the mattress right away. With many cribs, that process is quick and easy, but some cribs are designed so that lowering the mattress requires tools and an hour or so of your time.

The materials on this web site are for general information and educational purposes only. Information on this web site is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your pediatrician and nurse practitioner, which is always the best source for sound information specific to your infant, child and family. Always consult a physician or nurse practitioner promptly about specific medical conditions affecting your health or the health of family members.

Not To Worry has no financial interest in any third party books, products, service or web site mentioned within the content of this site; and makes no guarantees or promises regarding any such book, product, service or web site. The information contained in this web site is not guaranteed to be complete, comprehensive or current.

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