You made it through pregnancy and delivery, and now your bundle of joy is home with you. And your bundle of joy isn’t sleeping, causing you to be a bundle of irritability. Many a tired parent has been at wits’ end trying to figure out how to get their baby to sleep, and it is understandable that the approach that wins is the one that works. But is the one that works safely for your sleeping baby?
Are You Doing These Things Wrong for Your Sleeping Baby?
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In 2014, approximately 1500 babies from ages 1 month to 1-year-old died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and another 875 died from accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. A recent study completed by the American Academy of Pediatrics video-monitored infants at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months of age and concluded that “most parents, even when aware of being recorded, placed their infants in sleep environments with established risk factors. If infants were moved overnight, the second sleep environment generally had more hazards.” The NIH (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Safe to Sleep® campaign has helped to decrease the number of SIDS deaths, but the AAP study shows that parents are still either unaware of the dangers or are ignoring them. Here are 5 things you may be doing wrong as your little one sleeps:
- Co-sleeping. Hear me out! Co-sleeping on its own isn’t “wrong,” but there are right and wrong ways to do it. Never co-sleep after drinking alcohol or taking sedatives. If you have long hair, tie it back so your baby doesn’t get tangled in it. Consider moving older children to their own bed before you start co-sleeping with an infant. If you do prefer the “family bed” option, put your baby in between two adults. Check out other guidelines for safe cosleeping here. Another option for parents who are on medications or just worry about co-sleeping but still want their baby close: put a bassinet with a firm mattress next to your bed so you can safely put your baby in his own sleeping space without making numerous trips to the nursery.
- Crib bumpers, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals. Your baby’s bed should be completely bare other than a fitted sheet on the mattress. If your bedding set came with those cute bumpers, take a picture, and then remove them. If you’re crafty, you can turn them into wall hangings or pillows for the glider. Just keep them out of the bed. Are you worried your baby will get cold without a blanket? Use a sleep sack.
- Sleep positioners. Your baby should sleep flat on his or her back. Putting a sleep positioner in your baby’s crib is a no-no. Worried about acid reflux? Talk with the pediatrician about solutions. There is no need for a positioner to keep your baby on her back, either. If she’s strong enough to roll independently onto her tummy, she is probably okay. Still put her to sleep on her back, however, even if she’s started to roll onto her belly during the night.
- Swings. The swing saved my sanity when my first child had colic, but she was only in it when I was in the same room. Never put your baby to sleep in a swing, as sleeping too long in a sitting position may encumber his ability to get enough oxygen. There is also concern that the motion of the swing is actually detrimental to development.
- Pets. Even the most loving and well-meaning pets should still not be allowed where your baby is sleeping. My 80-pound golden retriever is a lover, and when she flops herself down on my 40-pound 6-year-old, I have to come to the rescue. Just think if my golden did that to my 8-pound baby. That’s an extreme example, but even a small dog or cat is still a hazard. Pets should always be kept out of the room in which your baby is asleep.
There is enough to worry about as a parent. Following these tips won’t give you the tips to sleep-train your baby, but they will ensure he or she is safe once they are sleeping. And eventually, you will get a full night’s sleep too!