Written by: Ellie Kim, Writer & Social Media Coordinator
Creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby is crucial. As parents, it is important to follow proper sleep protocols at all times to minimize potential risks. Over 3500 babies die every year from SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, which is when an infant under the age of 1 year dies unexpectedly in their sleep. Although not all cases can be directly connected to a specific cause, the number of cases would be much lower if proper infant sleep protocols were followed. The Family Care office has compiled a list of protocols that you should follow to ensure safe sleep for your baby.
1) The Bare Crib
It is easy for parents to be misled when setting up a baby’s crib. In baby stores or magazines, blankets and stuffed toys are constantly shown, making parents feel the need to fill the cribs with various things for aesthetic purpose. However, it is important that babies sleep in a bare crib with no pillows, blankets, or other comforters that could potentially suffocate or overheat babies in their sleep. The only thing that is needed is a tightly fitted bed sheet. You can still make your baby’s bed look nice – just make sure to remove everything before putting the baby down to sleep in the crib.
2) Room Sharing VS Bed-Sharing
Room sharing, having your baby sleep in the same room as you is encouraged, especially for the first 6 to 12 months. This will allow you to bond with your baby and attend to any emergencies immediately. On the other hand, bed-sharing is risky and not encouraged. Many parents decide to bed-share to make breastfeeding easier and to prolong the duration. However, it is important to keep in mind the potential risks of bed-sharing, which include:
- Suffocation from in-bed sleeping items (i.e. blankets and pillows) covering a baby’s head or a baby being trapped between the sleep surface and the body of an adult
- Strangulation from a bed frame or dangling cords from nearby lighting or chargers
3) Sleeping Position: Back Down
Always put your baby to sleep on their backs. Any other sleeping position increases the risk of SIDS. Some parents lay their baby on the stomach to sleep, as they are worried about the baby choking from reflux on their backs, but there is currently no scientific evidence to support this. It is possible for some babies to roll onto their stomachs while sleeping but parents must continue to return babies onto their backs until they are fully comfortable rolling both ways on their own.
4) Avoid Couch Sleep
Sleeping on the couch with your baby can be extremely dangerous. Because couches tend to be a lot softer and cushioned than beds, it is easier for babies to be trapped between your body and the couch. Avoid snuggling on the couch with your baby when you feel tired or at night to prevent any accidents from happening in case you fall asleep.
5) Caution Against Sleeping Products
Some products that are not recommended for safe sleep include:
- Baby swings
- Inclined sleepers
- Wedges and positioners
- Bed-side sleepers (attachable to adult beds)
Read more about how to make the baby’s room safe here