The American Academy of Pediatrics has flip-flopped so many times on the proper sleep habits for your infant. Although I do give credit to doctors with lots of practice and information, I do have to say that as a mother, you need to just go with your instincts and your baby's preferences. There are some common sense issues that go along with baby's safety while sleeping as well. In this article, we'll look into 7 sleep safety tips for your baby that will help to put your mind at ease.
As cute as they may be, stuffed animals may not be in your baby's best interest to accompany them to bed. It's probably best to keep stuff animals in a corner net or at the very least, remove them from the bed while baby is sleeping. Other items that might suffocate a baby would be heavy blankets and pillows. Children don't need a pillow until they are around 2 years old, actually. At 3 years, my son still prefers to be without a pillow at night. Rather than engulfing your baby in heavy blankets, it may be better to use a snuggie type sleeper or warmer jammies. If you're going to cover them up with anything, choose a thin sheet instead. If you're going to use a blanket for your infant, the thing to do is to cover them no higher than their chest area, and them firmly tuck the blanket in on both sides of the crib. Some doctors even go so far as to tell you to remove your bumper pad - I never went that far, as I thought the rails to be just as dangerous. Just make sure to lay them in the center of the bed, and they should be fine.
From what I've read, it used to be considered safer for a baby to sleep on their belly rather than on their back. Now, that has been reversed. And in between those two decisions, they decided that a side sleeping position was better! I personally don't know, but I do know that every baby is different and will quickly let you know what they prefer. My sister in law, who's baby is now 8 months old, couldn't get him to sleep on his back for anything! He had to have his belly. I've heard some doctors advise against side sleeping, but my first child wouldn't sleep any other way. Every baby is different, so it's your job as a mother to make them comfortable and just keep a close check on them. If your baby is a back sleeper, it is a good idea to provide lots of tummy time when awake to prevent a flat head. If your baby prefers to sleep on his side, be sure to rotate sides to keep one side from flattening more than the other. And if they must sleep on their tummy, make sure to lay them down with their face facing different directions each time.
Most doctors will recommend not co-sleeping with your baby. It's better to keep them in a bassinet close to you, but far enough away that you keep from rolling over on them or letting them fall from your bed. Sometimes, circumstances arise where you have to co-sleep for your baby's safety. My son developed bad reflux not long after coming home from the hospital, and we had to put him in bed with us, so we could ensure he didn't get choked. To do this safely, I simply put my Boppy pillow between my husband and myself and covered it with several blankets to created an elevated, comfy resting place for my baby. The pillow kept us safely separated while still allowing us to be right there in case my son couldn't breathe.
According to some experts, pacifiers help to reduce your baby's risk of SIDS. From what they say, SIDS is caused by the baby drifting into too deep of a sleep before his body has learned to arouse itself. The act of sucking on a pacifier while sleeping aids this by keeping the baby conscience enough to prevent this from happening. However, some experts in breastfeeding and the old fashioned way of life disagree with this use of a pacifier, since it does harm a good breastfeeding routine, which leads me to the next point.
Though some experts will tell you it isn't safe, studies have shown that back in time, when breastfeeding and co-sleeping were the only way of life known, SIDS was probably unheard of. Why? Because when baby is sleeping next to it's mother, it's sleep pattern mirrors hers, and being near it's mother, the baby is aroused more easily, and tends to nurse more frequently, thus reducing it's risk to SIDS. SIDS did not start really appearing until bottles and cribs became the thing to do. It's also been noticed that SIDS has reduced since 1992 when breastfeeding and co-sleeping began to once again gain popularity. So, don't let your doctor discourage co-sleeping too quickly. Carefully weigh out your pros and cons and make a decision based on what you feel will be right for you and your baby. And remember, nature has given mothers the unique ability to know where their baby is even while they're sleeping. Just be sure not to place them too near Daddy, as he doesn't have this same awareness.
Another new development in infant sleep safety is the warning against using sleep posistioners to keep your baby in the position you laid them in. Now, in my personal experience, infants don't really squirm and move that much in the first few months of life, so I find it hard to believe that, when properly placed, a sleep positioner could suffocate a baby. I used them with my son, as did my mother with all seven of her kids. Now, of course, this doesn't include a mother who doesn't pay attention and places the positioner on either side of baby's face. The proper placement of your baby's sleep positioner should be as follows: Most sleep positioners are adjustable, so adjust yours to fit snugly around your baby. Place your baby in between the two positioners where his chest is above the top of the sleep positioner and the belly area is in between the two parts of the positioner. Baby should not be further down on the positioner than that. Then, as usual, simply check on your baby frequently - it's as simple as that.
Make sure any mobiles or musical toys hanging on the side of the bed have no cords or strings hanging down. This is one of those "common sense" ones. Strings can wrap around a baby's neck, thus strangling your infant. Another thing to watch for is blinds on a window near your baby's bed. If possible, choose another type of blind rather than mini blinds.
There you have it. That is my take on safety and sleep with your infants. Feel free to leave a comment as to whether you agree or disagree - that's what freedom of speech is for! Have a wonderful day!
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