Infant Sleep Safety

Safe sleep is an anxiety many new parents share for good reason. According to the CDC, sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) claim the lives of around 3,400 infants every year. SUID applies to infants less than one year old with no apparent cause of death. This statistic is startling. Creating a safe sleep environment and exercising proper precautions can significantly lower the likelihood of infant loss.

Creating a safe sleep space

Remember, less is more when it comes to an infant’s sleep space.

An ideal space would include the following:

  1. A crib, bassinet or other approved safe sleep space with a firm mattress and fitted sheet should always be used. Soft surfaces including sofas, waterbeds and armchairs increase the risk of infant loss.
  2. Set a comfortable temperature. Your baby only needs one more layer than you would wear in the same environment to be comfortable.
  3. Infants should always sleep alone and never in a parent’s bed. Physicians recommend keeping the infant’s crib in the parent’s room for the first few months of life.
  4. Try giving your baby a pacifier. Pacifier use at bedtime may reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death.

Avoid anything loose in a sleep area, including:

  1. Blankets
  2. Pillows
  3. Bumper pads
  4. Soft toys
  5. Strings and cords

Keep the sleep space bare. Fewer items in a crib reduce the risk of any accidents occurring.

Place your baby on his back to sleep. Any caregiver, babysitter or guardian responsible for putting the infant to sleep must be reminded that the newborn should be placed on his back to sleep. As he gets older and stronger, your baby may roll onto his stomach.

Tummy time

Newborns and infants 3 to 4 months are beginning to develop muscles they need when they learn to crawl, sit up and walk. Tummy time is placing an infant on his stomach while she is awake, which strengthens the neck, shoulder and arm muscles. It also helps prevent flat spots on the baby’s head that occur from spending too much time on her back. Most babies can begin tummy time soon after you get home from the hospital. A parent or adult who is awake should always be watching the infant.

Sleep safety and tummy time are essential topics to research for any new parent. Online and medical resources are helpful for parents looking to increase their knowledge and create a safer space for their newborns. Reach out to parents in your community for advice or to share your experience.

Links to helpful resources:

CDC: Safe Sleep for Babies

How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained

March of Dimes: Safe sleep for your baby

Texas Health and Human Services: Safe Infant Sleep

Tummy Time

NIH Safe to Sleep: Babies Need Tummy Time!



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