So many new (and old) parents have questions about newborn sleep safety. They are constantly trying to figure out the best and safest places for their new baby to sleep.
Should they co-sleep? Should they share a room? Is a bassinette better than a crib? How long should they swaddle their baby? How do they prevent that scary sudden infant death syndrome? What kind of surface is best for
All of these are excellent questions and are common discussions that I have with my patients every day.
Not only is it important to create a sleep-friendly environment that will help your newborn fall asleep fast and stay asleep, but it’s also important that it is done in the safest way possible.
And with so many seemingly great options out there, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right one for you and your baby.
So, in this post, we’ll explore and discuss some of the best and safest sleep practices for your newborn and cover some pretty cool new innovations that will help your baby to sleep peacefully at night and help you to sleep better knowing that they are in a safe space.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDs?
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room…. Many people have heard of the term SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but few have a good idea of what it really is.
And quite frankly, that’s because we as a medical community are not quite sure what it is either, or at least what causes it.
According to SIDS.org, sudden infant death syndrome is “the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation…” And is a condition that is generally associated with sleep.
As the definition implies, the cause of death is unknown, but what we do know is that practicing safe sleep habits for newborns has drastically reduced the incidence of SIDS (by more than 50%!).
So, what are those safe sleep practices you ask? Keep reading below to find
To Co-Sleep or Not to Co-Sleep, That is the Question!
Many parents love the idea of snuggling to sleep with their little ones and having them within arm’s reach while they sleep. But many parents have also been counseled NOT to do this.
So the question is, is it okay to co-sleep????
And the answer is YES!….. But not in the way you might think (sorry).
The type of co-sleeping that is okay is sleeping in the same room (not bed) with your newborn.
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that parents share a bedroom with their infants for at least the first 6 months of their lives, which has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
So Why Not Share The Same Bed?
That is a good question and the reason is that infants are at increased risk of things like suffocation, falling off the bed, getting smothered and, you guessed it, sudden infant death syndrome when they share the same bed as their parents.
This, however, does not mean that you can’t keep your newborn close to you and even within arms reach while you sleep.
There are several doctor approved safe sleep spaces for your newborn that will still allow them to be close by for those middle of the night feeds, diaper changes and snuggle sessions.
But before we get into the best places for your baby to sleep, let’s cover some general newborn sleep safety tips
Golden Rules of Newborn Sleep Safety
Rule #1: Always put your baby on their back to sleep, this has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Rule #2: Be sure to clear the bed of any blankets, stuffed animals, pillows or other soft and plushy things as these can be
Rule #3: Make sure your baby’s sleep surface is nice and firm. You should avoid soft plushy mattresses or allowing your baby to fall asleep on soft surfaces such as the sofa or armchair.
Best (and Safest) Places For Your Baby To Sleep
So there are many options out there for places for your little one to sleep, but all are not created equal.
And there are some options that are safer than others. Here, we’ll cover some of the doctor recommended and parent approved places for baby to sleep.
The Bedside Bassinet
Always a great option! Bassinets are small cradles that act as portable sleep spaces for babies that are easily accessible with shallow mattresses and low sidings.
Bedside bassinets also called beside sleepers, are bassinets that come with equipment that allows you to attach the bassinette to your bed.
This gives you the best of both worlds! You have your baby right at your fingertips while also maintaining a safe sleep environment.
This is a classic and a great safe option for baby to sleep in. Cribs have been around since the beginning of time (well maybe not quite). But since then have undergone major upgrades in terms of safety.
So, while those antique cribs that have been passed down from generation to generation might be great and hold a lot of sentimental value, just make sure they check the boxes on the safety checklist.
Things to look out for to ensure your crib is safe:
- Make sure mattress is firm and tight fitting
- Ensure the crib has proper support with no loose or ill-fitting screws
- The slats on the crib should have no more than 2 3/8 inches of space in between to prevent your baby from getting trapped in between the slats
- Try to avoid cribs with drop siding
Also, be sure not to use crib bumpers as they increase the risk of suffocation.
The Pack N Play
This seems to be a favorite with many of my families and is a super convenient place for baby to sleep.
It’s a large bassinette that’s portable and works double duty as somewhere for your baby sleep and play!
Many of them also come with modifications such as bassinet inserts or changing table inserts, really giving you options for maximal utilization of the space.
And if you’re looking for a safe and cost-effective place to lay your little one to sleep, this is definitely the way to go, generally coming in at about ¼ to ½ the price of your average crib.
Now, this is the Mercedes Benz of baby sleepers (with the price tag to match).
If you haven’t heard of the Snoo, it is the magical baby bassinette that literally responds to your baby’s cries and gently rocks them back to sleep.
This bassinet reportedly responds to your baby’s cry but producing a white noise sound and rocks them at different speeds based on how upset they are.
If that isn’t cool enough, it also comes with an app that lets you see what’s happening with your baby and lets you control the functions.
And it comes with an attached swaddle that keeps your baby nice and securely positioned in the middle of the bassinette.
Pretty cool right?
No one sleep space in this post is better than the other. Choose the one that works best for you and your newborn.
What matters most is that you follow the safe sleep recommendations for your newborn to ensure many nights of peaceful and safe sleep.