It’s a beautiful thing when baby drifts off to sleep—but when your new-mom paranoia kicks in, you might find yourself constantly checking on your infant to make sure they’re still breathing. And it’s not a wholly unreasonable concern: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among US babies each year. Luckily, experts have figured out a few easy things parents can do to help ensure safe sleep for babies. Here are the top 10 tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to keep baby safe and sound while they sleep.
1. Make Sure Your Crib Meets Safety Standards
Step one in ensuring crib safety: Whether you’re using a crib, portable crib, bassinet or play yard, check that it meets the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). When you were a baby, your parents may have used a crib with a drop railing, but the CPSC has banned that type of crib since 2012, after finding that cribs with sides that lowered put babies at significant risk of suffocation and strangulation.
2. Use a Firm Sleep Surface
Adults may enjoy their pillow top mattresses, but babies should always sleep on a firm surface—meaning a hard surface that doesn’t indent when they’re lying on it. That could be a type of crib, bassinet or play yard with a firm mattress and a tight fitted sheet designed specifically for that product. You also don’t want any large gaps between the mattress and sides of the crib; when a mattress is fitting properly, you shouldn’t be able to slip more than two fingers down the sides.
3. Place Baby to Sleep on Their Back
It doesn’t matter if you’re putting your child down for a nap or for the night—always place baby to sleep on their back, not their stomach. This is one of the most important tips for safe sleep for infants. Generations past put their infants on their tummies, thinking they might otherwise choke on their spit-up, but the AAP reassures that baby’s airway anatomy and gag reflex will prevent that from happening. Even babies with reflux should be placed on their backs. Why? Because research shows infants who sleep on their backs have better airflow and are much less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides—a position from which babies can easily roll onto their tummies.
As babies gets older, they may start rolling onto their bellies overnight. If your child is around 6 months old and good head and trunk control (which they…
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