In the U.S. more than 3,500 babies are lost to sleep-related incidents each year. Prevention is key.
- Share a room, not a bed. The safest place for your little one is in a bassinet or crib. While co-sleeping may seem appealing for several reasons, there are too many risk factors at play. Loose sheets, soft mattresses, and other bodies significantly increase the sleep-related risks.
BACK IS BEST
- Infants up to a year old should always be placed to sleep on their backs. In the 1990’s there was a sharp decline in sleep-related deaths after the national launch of the Back is Best campaign. Back sleeping increases airflow, oxygen level, temperature regulation, and overall awareness.
CLEAR THE SPACE
- Cribs should be cleared of anything but the matress and sheet. A firm, breathable mattress with a tight-fitting, breathable sheet are the best companions for your baby at bedtime. Lovies, blankets and crib bumpers can entrap babies while they sleep, leaving them unable to change position to obtain proper airflow.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DO I KEEP MY BABY WARM WITHOUT A BLANKET?
In lieu of a traditional blanket, dress your baby in layers using wearable blankets. The rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than what you yourself are wearing to stay warm. Avoid over-dressing your baby, as high temperatures are counter-productive in your safe sleep efforts.
WHAT TYPE OF MATTRESS SHOULD MY BABY USE?
The best mattress is a firm mattress with a fitted covering or sheet. This provides a level and supportive surface to maximize development while also providing a level of resistance babies need as they begin to push up and roll over. Today there are several breathable mattresses on the market, read their guidelines for best practices.
WHAT IF MY BABY’S LIMBS GET STUCK IN THE CRIB SLATS WITHOUT THE BUMPER?
Bumpers were used before crib manufacturing was regulated, when slats were too wide and there was a concern babies’ heads could become lodged between the slats. As long as your crib meets the standards of the CPSC your baby will not experience anything more than temporary discomfort until a caregiver arrives to help. Bumpers are not proven to prevent limbs from slipping through the slats, but they are known to cause entrapment, suffocation, and axphxia.
WILL MY BABY GET A FLAT SPOT FROM SLEEPING ON THEIR BACK?
Pressure on the same part of the head can cause a flat spot. It is recommended that babies get plenty of tummy time and playtime in other age-appropriate positions in order to combat continuous pressure on the same area of your baby’s head.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY BABY SPITS UP WHILE SLEEPING ON THEIR BACK?
Babies, and all humans, have a reflex to push down or bring up fluids. The body is in a better position to use this reflex while lying face up. In the face-up position, the opening to trachea, or windpipe, lies on top of the esophagus. Fluids from the esophagus can easily pass without entering the airway opening. On the contrary, if a person is lying face down, the trachea opening is under the esophagus. Fluids from the esophagus would be subject to gravity and could easily pass into the airway opening.