Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so it is important to provide a safe sleep environment for them. Any parent is anxious to make their baby as comfortable during sleep as possible. However, some common steps for a cozy bed may increase the chance of serious problems.
Certain items in and around the crib can be a suffocation hazard to infants. These items may be harmless to older children but infants have smaller airways and less head control. This means they may not be able to reposition themselves if their access to air is blocked, even by something as simple as a blanket. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps to make your baby's sleep environment much safer without disturbing your baby's sleep.
All parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible hazards associated with sleeping.
Here are some tips to making your baby's sleep safer from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
When putting a baby less than one year of age to sleep, make sure that you place the baby on his or her back. Sleeping on the stomach has been associated with
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children under 6 months old are at increased risk because they are unable to reposition themselves.
Note: When your child is awake, it is okay for your baby to have supervised play time on their belly. This will help your baby develop some posture muscles.
Do not place the baby to sleep on a soft surface such as: WaterbedSofaSoft mattressPillow
A safe crib will have: No missing or broken hardware, and slats no more than 2-3/8" apartNo corner posts over 1/16" highNo cutout designs in the headboard or footboardA firm, tight-fitting mattressA safety certification seal
Remove soft products from the baby’s crib such as: Loose blankets or sheets—consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing instead of blanketsPillowsQuiltsComfortersSheepskinsBumper padsStuffed toys
Sleep positioners. They are unnecessary and pose a danger.
Note: Use only a fitted bottom sheet specifically made for the mattress.
For mesh-sided cribs or playpens, look for: Mesh less than 1/4 inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on a baby's clothingMesh with no tears, holes, or loose threads that could entangle a babyMesh that is securely attached to top rail and floor plateTop rail cover with no tears or holesIf staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposedUse the firm, tight-fitting mattress that came from the manufacturer
When infants sleep in adult beds, they are at increased risk for: Getting trapped between the mattress and another object.Getting trapped between the mattress and the wall.Getting trapped in headboard or footboard rails.Suffocation from soft items like clothing, blankets, pillows, and thick bedding.Suffocation from co-sleeping parent.
Your baby can sleep in the same room as you, but do not sharethe bed.
Back to sleep, tummy to play. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at:
Updated August 29, 2013. Accessed October 23, 2014.
Consumer Product Safety Commission. Crib safety tips. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Kids-and-Babies/Cribs/Crib-Safety-Tips/. Accessed October 23, 2014.
CPSC cautions caregivers about hidden hazards for babies on adult beds. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5091.pdf. Accessed October 23, 2014.
A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Updated June 20, 2014. Accessed October 23, 2014.
Rechtman L, Colvin J, et al. Pediatrics. 2014 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]. Sofas and infant mortality. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/10/08/peds.2014-1543.abstract. Accessed October 23, 2014.
Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. American Academy of Pediatrics Statement: The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reduction risk.
Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245-1255. Available at:
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/116/5/1245. Accessed October 23, 2014.
10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: US Food and Drug Administration. Infant sleep positioners: consumer warning—risk of suffocation. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
Accessed October 23, 2014.
11/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment.
Last reviewed October 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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