As a sleep consultant, my number one goal for clients is for their child to get safe and restorative sleep. Safe being the key word here. Through my personal experience and my certification training, I have learned ways to keep children safe and have them sleep well.
There are a few simple rules to follow. I know you can follow them, even if you are exhausted!
The ABC’s of Safe sleep:
Place your baby on his back on a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet in a pack n’ play, bassinet or crib.
Do not add ANYTHING to the crib. No bumpers (not even the mesh ones!), stuffed animals, blankets, or pillows. Once your child reaches 12 months, it is safe to add a lovey or blanket.
You should room share but don’t bed share. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing until 12 months, and at least for 6 months. Rooming sharing even up to 6 months reduces the chance of SIDs. But make sure that you and your child have separate sleep spaces.
Place your baby on her back for all sleep. If your child can roll in BOTH directions consistently, and she rolls to her tummy for sleep, you can leave her.
If your child is learning to roll, but can only roll in one direction, you should continue to place him on his back for sleep. Make sure you give plenty of time to practice rolling during awake hours. Think: supervised tummy time!
Offer a pacifier. You might not have known, but research has shown that pacifier use can help prevent SIDs. Offer the pacifier for naps and bedtimes. It is a great way for babies to self-soothe and also follows safe sleep practices.
Keep it flat. Your baby should always be put to sleep on a flat surface. Inclined surfaces, wedges and wedged mattresses are not safe for sleeping. Even more specifically, contraptions like Dock-a-tots, rock-n-plays, loungers, slings, and car seats that are detached from the base are NOT safe sleep spaces for babies.
Approved cribs are the only safe cribs. Make sure your crib, basinet or pack n’ play is approved for sleep. Read the fine print, because companies can try to trick consumers into believing their product is safe for sleeping. Babies should not be put to sleep on adult beds, couches, soft cushions, or armchairs.
Other Safe Sleep Tips:
Swaddles are great for babies, but make sure that when you baby begins to roll you switch from a swaddle to a sleep sack.
From 0-4 months, your baby may need more support to fall asleep. Swings and carriers are good tools, but as soon as she is asleep, place her safely into her crib.
Keep the room at a moderate temperature. Since blankets are not safe, use a sleep sack for an extra layer.