Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

Guidelines for Keeping Your Baby Safe While They Sleep

By Chelsey Wilcox, RN, NICU Nurse, The Family Birth Center at Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center

Baby sleeping in a cribThe CDC states that there are 3,400 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States each year. This number represents infants less than one year old who have no obvious cause of death otherwise. In addition, one of the leading causes of sudden infant death is accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment. To ensure your infant is protected, follow these guidelines for safe sleep practices.

Creating a Safe Sleep Environment

  • Back is best. Always place your baby on their back for naps and night sleep.
  • Flat surface. Use a flat, firm crib mattress that is not angled or inclined. You may also use a fitted sheet that is snug around the mattress.
  • No extras. Remove bedding and other items such as toys out of the crib while your baby is sleeping.
  • Minimize overheating. Never cover your baby’s head, use a pillow, or dress them in more than a layer of clothing and sleep sack.
  • Share a room, not a bed. It’s okay to keep your infant in the same room as you for sleep but never co-sleep.

The CDC provides an instructional video for safe sleep. In addition, parents are encouraged to follow this simpler tool to establish safe sleep practices.

The ABC’s of Safe Sleep

  • Alone: Be sure your infant always sleeps alone in their crib.
  • Back: Back is best for your infant. This helps them breath easily and maintain a comfortable posture while sleeping.
  • Crib: A crib provides a four-wall environment for your infant. Set-up your flat mattress crib with just a fitted sheet (no other bedding needed).

As hard as it is to resist the desire to co-sleep with your infant, creating a safe sleep environment is best for your child. The best option is to share a room while your child is a newborn through six months. This allows parents to closely monitor their infant as they grow, without sharing a bed.

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