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How To Help Baby Sleep Safely

February 24, 2021

We’ve all heard “sleep like a baby,” referring to that deep, peaceful, uninterrupted night of shut-eye. For anyone who’s had a baby, though, this term makes no sense. Babies are known for having erratic sleeping patterns. That’s because they’re still getting used to living life outside their comfortable, quiet, watery womb. Babies move, cry or feed at different hours through the night. It’s critical that we put them back to bed safely after waking.

As many as 3,500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping. The tragic deaths are usually due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but some are the result of accidental suffocation or strangulation. Infant safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) surrounding sleep should be understood and implemented in every household. 

Back sleeping is crucial

The AAP recommends that infants be placed on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of suffocation. Additionally, newborns may benefit from an increase in time being held “skin-to-skin.” This snuggle session helps stabilize the baby’s core body temperature and has the beautiful bonus of calming an infant thanks to the parent-child bond.

Empty and firm

When placing Baby in a crib or bassinet, ensure that the fitted sheet is tight with no extra material on the sleeping surface. Furthermore, blankets and toys should be kept out of the bed. Eliminate the need for a blanket by nestling Baby in a sleep sack to make it easy to keep him or her warm without the risk of suffocation and strangulation. Babies should never be placed on sofas, armchairs, or adult-size beds to sleep.

Breastfeed when possible

Mothers should attempt to breastfeed for at least six months. This is not only good for your baby’s health but is also associated with a decreased risk of SIDS. 

Room sharing without bed-sharing

Babies will benefit from sleeping in the parents’ bedroom for at least six months and up to a year. However, babies should not bedshare with parents but should, instead, have their own sleeping surface. A co-sleeper that attaches to the side of the bed or a crib designed specifically for this practice are the safest options.

Other recommendations include offering a pacifier at naptime, avoiding alcohol use during pregnancy and after birth and avoiding anything that could cause a baby to overheat. By following these guidelines, we hope you can rest easier knowing your little one is safe and sound and (hopefully) developing healthy sleep patterns. 

At Hancock Regional Hospital’s specialized Women+Children department, we want our patients’ health and well-being to top our priorities. That’s why we offer great postpartum classes, such as the Beyond the Bump Club, where mothers and partners can have the chance to ask qualified facilitators about anything from breastfeeding to safe sleeping habits. We care about making health possible for all of the families in our community!

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We partner with Peyton Manning Children's Hospital to provide elite neonatal care.