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Frequently Asked Questions
Always place your baby on the back to sleep at nighttime and naptime. This is the safest sleep position for a healthy baby to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first stated that infants should be placed on their backs to sleep, the occurrence of SIDS has fallen by half.
2. How will I know if my baby’s crib is safe for sleep?
Place your baby in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and a well-fitting sheet. The mattress is too loose if you can fit more than two finger widths between the edge of the mattress and the crib side. (Cradles and bassinets may be used, but choose those that are JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certified for safety). There should be no loose, missing, or broken screws, hinges or slats. There should be no more than 2 3/8” between the slats (about the width of a soda can). There should be no corner posts over 1/16”high.
3. How should I dress my baby for sleep?
Don’t cover the heads of babies with a blanket or over wrap them in clothing and blankets. Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing instead of blankets. Avoid letting the baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and rapid breathing. Dress the baby lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
4. Can I let my baby sleep with a special stuffed animal or blanket?
Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby. These items can lessen the baby’s ability to breathe if they cover his or her face.
5. Should my baby use a pacifier for sleep?
Consider giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. It has been shown that the risk of SIDS is lower when a pacifier is used during sleep. Using a pacifier does not affect breastfeeding (if breastfeeding is already well established), and does not cause later dental problems. Use the pacifier when placing the baby down for sleep, and do not insert the pacifier again once he/she falls asleep. If the baby refuses the pacifier, he/she should not be forced to take it. Pacifiers should not be coated in any sweet mixture. Pacifiers should be cleaned often and replaced regularly.
Have supervised “tummy time” for babies who are awake. This will help babies strengthen their muscles and develop normally.
Why is “Tummy Time” important? Infants now miss out on the 12 hours of tummy time that they used to get when sleeping on their tummies. Many infants also spend long hours in swings, car and infant seats when awake. Because of these practices, some infants are developing motor delays.
Majnemer A and Barr RG. (2006) Association between sleep position and early motor development. Journal of Pediatrics 149,623-9
California Childcare Health Program
7. Is sleeping with my baby safe?
Remember, adult beds, sofas and chairs are not safe for sleeping babies and can greatly increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation and accidental infant deaths. There have been reports of infants being suffocated by an adult, brother, sister, other family member, or pet, that rolled on top of the infant while sharing a bed or other sleep area such as as couch or chair. Bring baby into your bed to breastfeed and bond, but when its time for sleep, place your baby in his or her own separate, safe sleep area in the same room. If you have been drinking alcohol, or taking drugs/medicines that may make you sleepy, or are very tired, or are very overweight, do not bring your baby into bed with you.
8. Is it ok for my baby to sleep on the couch or recliner?
Remember, adult beds, sofas and chairs are not safe for sleeping babies and can greatly increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation and accidental infant deaths. When it is time for sleep, place your baby in his or her own separate, safe sleep area or in a crib that meets current safety standards in the same room.
Mothers who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy increase the risk of SIDS three times, despite the birth weight of the baby. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Some studies have shown that cigarette smoke in the baby’s environment after birth also increases SIDS risk. The risk has been shown to increase with either the number of cigarettes smoked by the parents or the number of hours the infant spends in the presence of smokers.
10. Will special baby monitors keep my baby safe from sleep related death or injuries?
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