10 ways to create a safe sleep environment for your baby

Children's Health

by Baylor Scott & White Health

Apr 5, 2024

Coming home with a baby is an exciting time for new parents. There are many important things to learn about parenting a newborn—starting with making sure that they have a safe space to sleep at night. 

The responsibility of ensuring your baby's safety during sleep can seem overwhelming. However, there are actionable steps that you can take to ensure your baby is comfortable and secure each night. 

Creating a safe sleep space for your baby

You are not alone on this journey. There are many educational resources available to you when you bring your baby home from the hospital. You can speak with your pediatrician or family physician for advice on the best sleeping practices for your baby to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a seemingly heathy baby younger than 1 year old. While SIDS remains unpredictable and tragedies do occur, the risk of SIDS can be greatly reduced with a few simple steps. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released evidence-based safe sleep recommendations to help prevent infant sleep deaths. These have decreased the rate of SIDS significantly. 

Here’s how parents can help create a safe sleep environment:

  1. Place your baby on their back for sleep.
  2. Use a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat mattress and a fitted sheet.
  3. Keep extra items (loose blankets, pillows, toys, and other soft items) out of the baby’s sleep space.
  4. Do not use bumper pads in cribs.
  5. Have your baby sleep in your room but on a separate surface (such as a crib or in a bassinet).
  6. To avoid overheating, dress your baby for room temperature and do not overbundle. 
  7. If possible, breastfeed your baby.
  8. Offer a pacifier to your baby at sleep time, but do not pressure your baby to take it.
  9. Do not smoke or allow any smoking around your baby.
  10. Ensure your baby receives all recommended immunizations. 

Decreasing the risk of SIDS

Since 1992, there has been a stress on creating safe sleep environments for infants. The majority of SIDS deaths happen in babies who are between 1 and 4 months old. 

Babies may have a higher risk of SIDS if their parents smoked tobacco, drank alcohol, or used drugs during pregnancy or after the baby’s birth. High-quality prenatal care has also been associated with a lower risk of SIDS.

Additional risk factors for SIDS include:

  • Family history of SIDS
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Prematurity or low birth weight
  • Unsafe sleep habits (sleeping on a soft surface, with soft objects or loose items, or in a parent’s bed)

The new responsibility of being a parent can feel overwhelming at times. By prioritizing safety and adhering to recommended guidelines, you can provide your little one with the best possible start in life. All while finding your own peace of mind, knowing that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. 

Babies need safety in every environment they thrive in. Questions about your baby’s sleeping environment? Speak with your pediatrician for advice. 

This article was contributed by Adiva Sahar.

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