Safe Sleep and Your Baby


Although there are many different strategies on how to sleep train a baby, luckily, the advice on how to create a safe sleep environment for an infants is a bit more cut and dry. Since the “Back to Sleep” campaign of 1994, the number of babies put to sleep on their back has risen dramatically. This has ultimately led to a decrease in the rate of SIDS in the United States. In 2011 and again in 2016, the “Back to Sleep” recommendations have been expanded. I would like highlight the key points of the new recommendations so that you can create the safest possible sleep environment for your baby. Hopefully this will help you to sleep a little easier too! First, until their first birthday, always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. Some parents are concerned that their baby will aspirate in this position but healthy newborns have a developed gag reflex and are not at risk of choking. Other times, parents feel that their baby sleeps better on the side. Unfortunately, side sleepers are at risk of rolling to their bellies which increases the risk of SIDS. Once a baby reaches about 4 or 5 months of age, he will usually have the skills to turn over both ways. If, at this point, your infant flips over while sleeping, let him be. Second, it is important to use a firm sleep surface with a tight fitted sheet. Nothing else should be placed in the crib with your baby. This includes soft objects or blankets. If you are unsure of your child’s crib or mattress. I recommend you visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Third, room sharing is recommended while bed sharing is not. This is perhaps the most important new recommendation. Room sharing during the first 6 to 12 months decreases the risk of SIDS dramatically. Ideally, your baby’s bassinet or crib should remain close to your bed. As well as being safer, this will make the middle of the night feeds a little easier and increase bonding. You can share your bed with your child for soothing and feeding but you should always return your baby to his own bassinet or crib when it is time to sleep. Parents of young infants often ask about using a pacifier, swaddling, or a mobile to help their young ones sleep. Pacifiers are actually recommended for sleep since they reduce the risk of SIDS. We recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established (approximately 2-3 weeks) before introducing a pacifier. Swaddling does not impact the risk of SIDS but it definitely helps some infants to sleep. We feel comfortable allowing a swaddle with sleep until a baby is capable of turning over both ways or unless you are not a particularly good swaddler! As for a mobile, we recommend that you do not put this directly over the crib. If it comes loose or your child is able to grab it, it can be dangerous. All of the recommendations we have discussed should also be employed when your child naps. I hope this quick review has been helpful and please feel free to reach out with any questions about creating a healthy sleep environment for your child. As for sleep training, this is a topic for another day. I promise I will come back to this in a few weeks. For more information please feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..