Entering parenthood inherently comes with a new-found appreciation for sleep. Let’s face it, during the first few weeks or months (…or sometimes even years) of relative sleep-deprivation, we all naturally covet the days (nights, to be more precise) of uninterrupted sleep. Yet while just about all parents understandably aspire to get a bit more shut-eye and commit to teaching our children healthy sleep habits, it’s equally important to recognize that there’s a lot more to getting a good night’s sleep than just getting enough.
Simply put, the parenting definition of a good night’s sleep must also incorporate what we now know about safe sleep. Given that October happens to be SIDS Awareness Month, it seems the perfect time to review some of the latest life-saving recommendations from the new Safe to Sleep Campaign from the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics –two of the organizations responsible for the hugely effective Back to Sleep Campaign. Fully updated to reflect what we now know about the best ways to keep babies safe while sleeping, the newly released Safe Sleep Top 10 include:
1. Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep for every nap and nighttime. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts.
2. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved* crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.
3. Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
4. Do not allow smoking around your baby….before he’s born or after!
5. Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. You can bring your baby into bed with you to breastfeed – just be sure to put him back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or a bedside co-sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished.
6. Consider using a clean, dry pacifier when placing your baby down to sleep. If you are breastfeeding your baby, wait until your child is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.
7. Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing, and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
8. Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.
9. Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other conditions talk to your health care provider.
10. Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head: provide “Tummy Time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching; change the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next; and avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, and bouncers.
With these tips providing a firm foundation for safer sleep, and in the spirit of happy, healthy infants everywhere, I’d like to propose that “Good Night, Sleep Tight” be tweaked ever so slightly to “Good Night, Sleep Safe.” Regardless of whether any of you actually take me up on this proposal, I’m most interested in hearing what sleep challenges and/or successes you have to share, and what you’ve things you’ve done to help insure your baby (and family) not only gets enough sleep, but does so safely.
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