It’s a well known fact that when you bring a baby home, sleep becomes an issue of most importance. Most of us start making decisions about where baby will sleep once we find out we’re pregnant. We start looking at cribs and bassinets, and it can be overwhelming to make a decision, but we finally do, and then we wait. When baby finally shows up, however, those ideas don’t always go the way we had planned. Where baby sleeps is a personal choice but there are straightforward guidelines as to what the baby’s sleep environment should look like.
It is recommended to have baby sleep in the same room as you for the first 3 to 6 months. This is a SIDS risk reduction measure. By having the baby sleep in the same room as the parents, their risk for SIDS can be cut in half.
If the baby will sleep in a crib, bassinet, portable play yard, mini-crib, cradle, or co-sleeper, please make sure they are current in their safety design. If you’re planning on using a pre-owned infant sleep contraption (ISC), please check for recalls.
Regardless of which ISC you use, follow these guidelines:
- No padded/soft sides/floppy walls (no bumper pads).
- No Sleep Positioners
- No stuffed animals or pillows or loose blankets
- No toys or mobiles
- The sleeping surface should be firm enough where the baby doesn’t ‘sink’
Really, it should be baby on their backs in a very plain, simple, empty space for sleep.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “How boring?!” Yes. That’s exactly what we want. What would you like for baby to do in the ISC? Sleep! We don’t want it to be stimulating; we want it to be conducive to sleep, but it’s also what is safest.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just released updated guidelines for safe sleep recommendations. This is great news since it’s not just recommendations limited to SIDS risk reduction. Reducing the risk for SIDS is very important but equally so are the recommendations for reducing the risk of suffocations, strangulations, chokings, and overlay.
Bed-sharing is a controversial issue, but there have been studies done on this topic. Dr James J. McKenna with the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at Notre Dame. He also has a book on the topic of bed-sharing. Dr Sears has a nicely done article online. The Today Show has even featured a segment on the bed-sharing issue.
Our culture can also influence our infant sleep practices, and should be respected. However, traditions might need to be updated to reflect the latest safety recommendations. A wonderful woman I know said it best, “Babies haven’t changed in 30 years, but what we know about them has.”
It is best to educate yourself about infant sleep and the safest methods for whichever situation you choose.