Author Bio: Ryan Howard runs SmartParentAdvice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
Becoming a parent for the first time is an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, it’s a fun, exciting new chapter in your life. On the other hand, it’s overwhelming and stressful. One of the biggest concerns for new parents is SIDS. SIDS takes the lives of 3,500 infants each year in the US, and creates a ton of anxiety for many more parents. While you might not be able to completely stop worrying about this, you can at least mitigate your risk by creating a safe environment for sleep.
Where To Sleep
One of the biggest factors in infant sleep safety is location. Babies should sleep in cribs or bassinets that meet all of the latest safety standards. Sofas should be avoided as there is a higher likelihood of suffocation for babies sleeping on a sofa. Similarly, infants that sleep in the same bed as an adult are 40 times more likely to die from suffocation. While sleeping in the same bed might feel safe since you can keep close tabs on your little one, it’s actually quite a bit riskier than having them sleep in their own place. This is particularly true if the bed has soft pillows and loose sheets.
Back Is Best
Until they start rolling over on their own, babies should always be put down to sleep on their back. In fact, even when they do start rolling over, it’s still a good practice to put them down on their backs initially. While tummy time is important for babies’ development, it’s not a safe way to sleep. Instead, tummy time should only be done when baby is awake, and only with close adult supervision.
Safe Sleep Tips
Dressing your baby for a good night of sleep is one of the keys to sleep safety. Overheating can be a serious risk for infants. So, you will want to make sure your baby is warm, but not hot. Your little one’s face and head should never be covered.
Pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. So, it’s not a bad idea to offer one to your baby when it’s time to sleep. Don’t worry if it falls out after sleep has set in. There is no need to replace it.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS. Even 2 – 4 months nursing lowers the risk significantly. If you are able to go for 4 – 6 months, it helps even more.
Monitors have been the topic of some controversy when it comes to sleep safety. A lot of parents feel a lot better when they are able to glance down at a screen and check on their little one. However, it should be noted that monitors have not been proven to decrease SIDS risk. So, while they might make you feel better, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. Instead, you should periodically poke your head into your baby’s room to check on him or her.
While concerns about SIDS can be a major source of anxiety for new parents, worrying is not always productive. Instead of dwelling on this risk, my advice is to do everything in your power to help ensure your little one is sleeping safely. Then, try to get back to enjoying parenthood.