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September 11, 2018

Your Questions About Safe Sleep Answered

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Tried-and-True Safe Sleep Practices for Babies

Once you have a new baby at home, you hear lots of opinions about how babies should be sleeping. But doctors and researchers agree on tried-and-true things you can do to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes for infant death — at home and whenever your baby is with trusted caregivers.

Did you know documentation of health and safety orientation training is required for all caregivers including teachers, directors in child care centers, child care homes licensees, volunteer caregivers, and anyone else included in the child-staff ratio? Click here to learn more about identifying quality care in Indiana.

What does safe sleep at home look like?

1. Baby lays on his or her back for all sleep times-naps and at night.

2. Sleep happens on a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress, in a safety-approved crib.

3. No soft bedding such as blankets, pillows or bumper pads are in the crib. No toys or soft items should be in the baby’s sleep area.

4. Sharing your room and not your bed with your baby.

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

For the first year of their life, an infant’s sleep area should be clear of bumpers, pillows, blankets or toys. It should be a firm surface in a safety-approved crib. Recently, new guidance includes having your baby sleep in the same room where the parent(s) sleep. It’s ideal to have babies “room in” for the first year and especially in their first six months of life.

Why is it dangerous to have bumpers, pillows or blankets in a baby’s crib?

Objects in your baby’s sleeping environment can be dangerous to your and can cause accidental death by suffocation, entrapment or strangulation. Babies are very little and their motor skills are still developing, so even something soft and cozy can become lethal.

Is it okay to let my baby nap on their stomach, as long as I am watching them?

It is important that a baby always sleeps on their back. Even during naps, babies are learning habits and learning how to sleep on their back is important for their safety. A baby’s breathing can become obstructed when they sleep on their stomach. Sleep dangers can but a baby at risk at any time, day or night. Once your baby can roll over both ways it is ok for your baby to find their own sleep position, you should still always lay them on their backs to sleep and them let them get comfortable.

New views on swaddling via the National Resource Center For Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.

Can a baby sleep with an adult who is a light sleeper?

Most suffocation deaths occur in adult beds. Adult beds have extra pillows and blankets. Adults also tend to overestimate their ability to wake up if a baby rolls or moves around. Doctors recommend parents put a crib next to the adult bed so they can be close to each other and also practice safe sleep. Your baby will learn to sleep in their own bed and will be less likely to wake up often in the middle of the night.

Is it safe to sleep with my baby on the couch?

When an adult shares a couch with a baby for naps or sleeping, there is a high risk of entrapment. Although we may feel our baby is safe from rolling over, the risk is trapping the baby between the couch cushions and our body is high. It’s better to spend extra time bonding with our baby before we put them down for naps in their crib. If you are sleepy, sofas and armchairs are especially dangerous spots to cuddle your little one.

What else can families do to reduce the risk of SIDS?

There are many practices that reduce the risk of SIDS for babies. Studies have revealed that risks are reduced by:

  • Regular prenatal care for a baby’s mother
  • Avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana or illegal drugs during pregnancy AND after the baby is born
  • Breastfeeding babies — the longer you breastfeed, the greater the reduction
  • Providing a pacifier for your baby — and do not use any attachments like string, stuffed toys or blankets
  • Making sure your baby does not get too hot and keeping your baby’s head and face uncovered during sleep
  • Going to regular “well baby” check-ups and following your health provider’s guidance on vaccines

For more information about safe sleep, explore these resources:

Share this video with your baby’s grandparents or trusted caregivers so they can learn about the latest in safe sleep.

Talk about safe sleep with your provider and share this blog post with them!


National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Safe to Sleep® campaign

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