Safe Sleep for Babies: A Practical Guide for New Parents

The guidelines on safe sleep for babies are very easy to understand but ironically, as a mom myself, it’s very hard to follow.

There were instances when I let my baby sleep in her rocker and swing, where she had some toys in her crib and other stuff I’d already forgotten about as a sleep-deprived mom back then.

But safe sleep for newborns is a must to follow, as it concerns the life of your baby. 

You don’t want your little one to be another SUIDS statistic so in this guide, you’ll get a very straightforward, no-nonsense list of how to practice safe sleeping for infants.

I will also have here an overview of Safe Sleep 7, how to reduce the risk of SIDS, and more. 

Let’s start with the basics.

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What is Safe Sleep?

Safe sleep is more than just a set of rules; it’s a set of practices that prioritize the well-being and safety of your baby during their sleep. 

This includes everything – from the sleep environment to the baby’s positioning and the other factors that can affect your little one’s sleep.

Importance of Safe Sleep Habits for Babies

Ensuring your baby’s safety during sleep is of extreme importance. 

The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths can be significantly reduced by adopting safe sleep practices. 

Not only does this provide peace of mind for you, especially if you’re a new parent, but it also contributes to the overall health and well-being of your little one.

AAP Safe Sleep Guide

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a trusted source when it comes to infant health and safety. 

Their latest safe sleep guidelines offer valuable insights that can help you create a secure sleep environment for your baby.

The safe sleep guide below is based on the AAP, as well as from other trusted sources, such as the CDC, CPSC, and Healthychildren.org.

Safe Sleep for Babies (Guide for New Parents)

Here are some practical ways to ensure that your baby sleeps safely during nap times or at night:

Always put your baby on their back to sleep

Placing your baby on their back is the safest sleep position and reduces the risk of SIDS. Here’s what to do if your baby keeps facing down the mattress to sleep.

Use a firm, flat surface

Opt for a crib or bassinet, or play yard with a firm mattress to provide a stable sleep surface for your baby.

Room share instead of bed sharing

Having your baby sleep in the same room as you, but not in the same bed, promotes safer sleep.

No soft objects or loose bedding

Keep the sleeping area free from pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and other soft items that could pose a suffocation risk.

Don’t let your baby overheat/get too cold

Maintain a comfortable room temperature to prevent overheating or chilling.

Find out ways here to know if your baby is too cold and how to keep your baby warm.

Make sure the crib or bassinet meets current safety standards

Ensure that the sleep environment complies with up-to-date safety guidelines.

Look for JPMA-certified bassinets or cribs or ideally those that have more safety certifications like Greenguard Gold-certified cribs or bassinets and such.

Be mindful of crib or bassinet placement in the room

Position the crib away from windows, cords, and other potential hazards.

Safe Sleep 7 by La Leche League

The Safe Sleep 7, advocated by the La Leche League, adds more layers of protection to your baby’s sleep. Their guide is very straightforward and can even be remembered through a song:

THE SAFE SLEEP SEVEN BEDSHARING SONG

(to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)

No smoke, sober mom

Baby at your breast

Healthy baby on his back

Keep him lightly dressed.

Not too soft a bed

Watch the cords and gaps

Keep the covers off his head

For your nights and naps.

Click here if you want to know more.

Reducing the Risk of SIDS

Here are some more ways to lower the risk of SIDS:

  • Breastfeed your baby: Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower risk of SIDS.
  • Give a pacifier: Using a pacifier at sleep times can provide protective benefits.
  • Avoid bedsharing: While it’s tempting, bedsharing can increase the risk of sleep-related accidents.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and illegal drugs: These substances can heighten the risk of SIDS.
  • Don’t use a blanket on your baby: Opt for sleep sacks or swaddling your baby, instead of using a blanket.
  • Don’t let your baby sleep on soft surfaces: Always ensure a firm sleep surface for your baby.
  • Get regular prenatal care and schedule regular check-ups: Monitoring your baby’s health is essential.
  • Do tummy time regularly: Do supervised tummy time every day when the baby is awake. It helps in development and prevents flat spots on the head.
  • Be cautious of sleep products: Not all products on the market are safe for sleep. Stick to those that meet safety guidelines.

FAQ on Safe Sleep for Babies

Let’s address some common questions parents often have regarding safe sleep:

What is Considered Safe Sleep for babies?

Safe sleep for babies involves placing them on their backs, using a firm sleep surface, and avoiding soft objects and loose bedding.

What are the Safe Sleep guidelines for SIDS?

Safe sleep guidelines for SIDS include placing your baby on their back to sleep, using a firm mattress, room-sharing, and avoiding bed-sharing.

Can SIDS happen during safe sleep?

SIDS can still happen during safe sleep, even when following safe sleep practices. However, these practices significantly reduce the risk.

How do you know if your baby is too hot while sleeping?

You can know if your baby is too hot while sleeping by checking their neck or back or tummy, to see if they feel warm. Keep the room temperature comfortable and avoid overdressing.

What does unsafe sleep for infants mean?

Unsafe sleep for infants includes practices such as placing them on their stomachs to sleep, using soft bedding, and allowing bed-sharing.

What are the three SIDS factors?

The three SIDS factors are the sleep environment, the physical vulnerability of the infant, and the critical development period in the baby’s life.

What age is at risk for SIDS?

SIDS is most common between the ages of one month and four months.

Can I swaddle my baby?

Yes, swaddling can be done safely if done correctly. Make sure the swaddle is not too tight and always place the baby on their back to sleep. Related Article: What To Do If Newborn Hates Swaddle

Safe Sleep for Babies: Takeaway

Like what I said in the intro, safe sleep for babies seems very easy to follow but it’s actually quite difficult to be consistent with it.

Especially when you’re a sleep-deprived new parent and when almost everything about it is the exact opposite of what your baby actually prefers!

But as much as possible, try to stick to at least the ABCS of Safe Sleep.

Remember SIDS is very real and it can happen to anyone, even those who are practicing baby sleep safety guidelines.

It’s really quite scary and heartbreaking so try to follow the guidelines on safe sleep for infants. You will never regret keeping your baby safe.

If you like this article, then check out our other guides on How To Get Baby To Sleep Longer Stretches At Night, Shush Pat Method Sleeping Guide, and How to Make Bassinet More Comfortable So Your Baby Can Sleep.

Julie