During the first few months of life, a newborn infant will spend a majority of their time asleep. It is therefore vitally important that safe sleeping habits are used to protect babies from anything that could lead to sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). Sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, is a type of SUID. Babies are at higher risk for SIDS if they are exposed to cigarette smoke, sleep on surfaces that are too soft like couches, chairs, or adult mattresses, or sleep on their stomachs.
Here are some general recommendations to help protect your baby:
- Always lay your baby flat on their back to go to sleep.
- Avoid using any pillows, blankets, or crib bumper pads.
- The baby should be dressed in a one-piece sleeper.
- Keep the sleeping area clear of stuffed animals, toys, etc.
- Nothing should be covering the baby’s head.
- Your baby should sleep on a firm surface/mattress.
- Co-sleeping, or having the baby sleep in bed with you, is discouraged.
Frequently asked questions about newborn sleep habits:
Q: Can I position my baby so they sleep on their side?
A: This is discouraged as side-sleeping babies are also at an increased risk for SIDS.
Q: What if my baby rolls onto their stomach during sleep? Do I need to roll them back over?
A: No, you do not need to roll them back over. This typically happens at about 4-6 months of age. Just make sure that there is no loose bedding that the baby could get trapped in.
Q: Won’t my baby’s head become oddly shaped if they are always lying on their back?
A: If small flat spots do occur, they almost always resolve as the baby learns to sit up. Giving your baby tummy time will help with these flat spots while also helping the baby to strengthen their neck and shoulders.
Q: My baby has reflux, won’t they choke if sleeping on their back?
A: Researchers have shown that there is no increase in SIDS for babies with reflux sleeping on their backs. Some even feel that sleeping on their back will decrease choking.
Q: Won’t my baby be safer sleeping in bed with me where I can hear if they are having problems?
A: Having the baby in bed with you is dangerous. It increases the risk of SIDS because there are blankets and pillows, the mattresses are usually too soft, and parents can unknowingly roll onto the baby.
Resources for families:
Safe to Sleep- http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts
Sleep recommendations- https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep