You may think that your baby needs a soft, fluffy blanket in order to sleep comfortably. Still, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission discourages the usage of blankets in your baby’s crib. Blankets can cover your baby’s nose and mouth, causing him to suffocate. If you’re worried about your baby becoming too cold in the night, make sure that you practice safe blanket and cover usage so that you can sleep easy, knowing that your baby is both safe and warm in his crib.
Dress your baby in a blanket sleeper for sleep. These sleepers are made of a thicker material than traditional sleepers, and they are fire retardant. They are warm enough that you can put your baby to sleep without a blanket altogether.
Whether you’re still pregnant and are setting up your baby’s nursery or your little bundle has already arrived, you’re probably spending a lot of time thinking about how you’ll get your newborn to sleep.
Of course, you want your baby to sleep soundly. But it’s just as important that she sleeps safely. Smart, safe sleep practices can help protect infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related hazards, so every new parent needs to become familiar with safe sleep guidelines.
Don’t worry — they’re not complicated. When it comes to safe sleep for babies, simple is often better. Here’s exactly what you need to know so that you and your baby can both rest easy.
Newborns don’t yet have a sense of day and night. They sleep around the clock, and because their tiny stomachs don’t hold enough breast milk or formula to keep them satisfied for long, they often wake to eat — no matter what time of day or night it is.
Newborn sleep: It’s one of the three main things you think about when you have a baby. (There’s sleep, there are feedings, and there’s basic hygiene, as in, “How many days ago did I shower? Can I wear a sweatshirt with crusted spit-up on it to the paediatrician’s office? Answer: Yes.)
As you’re getting to know your newborn’s sleep needs and ever-changing patterns and rhythms—and adjusting to the new-parent sleep deprivation—you might feel overwhelmed by all the competing baby sleep philosophies in books and on blogs, the endless dos and don’ts, contradictory rules and scary safety warnings. Meanwhile, you’re still wondering how the heck to get your adorable little creature to sleep through the night. There are many ways to do it—it’s up to you to figure out what works—but there are some things you should avoid altogether. Here are seven common baby sleep mistakes you may be making.
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Newborn sleep: common mistakes new parents make
Don’t assume the mellow, sleepy newborn phase will last forever.
We hate to break it to you, but your dozy, peaceful infant who simply falls asleep, milk-drunk, after feeding may not always be this way. The first few weeks (or even months) are not always indicative of the kind of sleeper you happened to score in the newborn sleep lottery. Some babies randomly sleep through the night early on (congratulations!), but it doesn’t mean this will continue indefinitely. Have you weathered the four-month sleep regression yet? Yeah, you might want to read up on that. (Sorry.) And even though nursing to sleep or to rock to sleep before naps and bedtime might be working for you now, know that sometimes IT JUST STOPS WORKING. If you’re one of the lucky parents with a “unicorn baby” (this means your baby is sleeping well without much effort on your part), try not to gloat. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing it right, while that other mom with the colicky, sleepless baby hasn’t figured it out. Believe us, and she’s trying.
Sleeping on the couch with a newborn in your arms is dangerous.
We get it, falling asleep on the sofa with an infant curled up on your chest is one of the best feelings in the world. Many an exhausted new mom has nodded off for a bit while her sleeping baby is sprawled across her lap or nestled up all warm and cozy on a breastfeeding pillow. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this kind of co-sleeping—on a couch or armchair—is a serious newborn sleep mistake. It’s way more dangerous than co-sleeping in a bed, due to the risk of dropping or smothering the baby. If you’re going to nap or sleep with your infant, opt for bed-sharing. And if you’re going to co-sleep or bed-share, watch this video to make sure you’re doing it safely.
Don’t let your newborn sleep in the car seat.
This is a contentious one because we’ve all been there: Your baby conks out in the car seat while you’re driving home or running errands, and the beauty of the bucket seat is that you can pop it out and transfer your sleeping infant inside for the remainder of her nap. But according to the AAP, allowing an infant to sleep in a bucket car seat that’s been placed on the floor or clicked into a stroller is a safety hazard, as the baby’s head can fall forward and cause something called positional asphyxiation. Due to the angle of the seat design, it’s much safer to let your newborn nap in the car seat while it’s attached to the base and installed in the car. Letting your baby sleep in a car seat overnight when you’re not awake enough to check on her is a serious baby sleep mistake. Experts recommend limiting the time your baby spends in a car seat, bouncer or swing to 30 minutes, mostly for developmental reasons (it restricts motion) and the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly (aka flattened head syndrome). However, we’d like to acknowledge that this 30-minute maximum is downright impossible on road trips, for parents who have long work or daycare commutes, or when the swing is truly the only place you can get your infant to nap. We’d love to see some more research on this recommendation.
Don’t buy those cute crib bumper sets you see on blogs and in catalogues.
This one’s pretty easy to follow: don’t use crib bumpers. They are a SIDS risk, the sale of them is even banned in some US states, and doctors have been lobbying against crib bumpers for years. Yes, some babies flail around a lot in their sleep, especially when they’re on the verge of learning to roll, crawl, or walk. But they probably won’t seriously injure themselves by bumping their heads on a crib rail. While those “breathable” mesh bumpers do a good job of keeping soothers (and little hands and feet) from poking out of the crib slats, they are not recommended due to the risk of entanglement and strangulation. (Also, word to the wise: older, more mobile babies can stand on bumpers and use them as a step when they’re trying to monkey their way of the crib.) And while we’re at it, you shouldn’t use a DockATot or “infant lounger” for unsupervised sleep inside (or outside) the crib, either. They’re technically no longer available in Canada, but similar products are still on the market.
Don’t put off sleep training because the baby is teething.
Newsflash: Your baby is always teething. Or sick with a cold. Or coming down with something and or recovering from something. Or over-tired. Or you are suffering from Unexplained Fussy Baby Syndrome. (OK, we made that one up. But it’s somewhat true.) If you’re hoping to sleep train—plenty of parents don’t—it’s important to know that it may never feel like the right time. Experts say it’s easiest to sleep train a baby between the ages of six and 12 months, but use your judgment and listen to your gut. If you’re not fully committed to sleep training before you start, you won’t stick to it.
Stop room-sharing after six months.
This is a tricky one. In October 2016, the AAP announced that parents should room-share with their babies for at least the first six months, and—ideally—for a full year. But by June 2017 the experts had changed their minds on that one, saying that you shouldn’t room-share beyond six months. Because let’s be real: Many parents’ bedrooms only fit a bassinet (not a full crib), and most babies outgrow the bassinet (or start rolling or pulling up on the sides) by month four, five or six. Some babies will wake up in the night more frequently if they hear or smell their parents nearby and will sleep more soundly in their room. It’s also pretty hard to teach independent sleep or do the cry-it-out method of sleep training if your baby is right next to you. If room-sharing is working for you, great—but don’t feel pressured into it. Researchers aren’t seeing huge benefits after a baby’s older than six months.
Don’t let a high-tech baby monitor make you feel over-confident (or overly anxious).
Baby monitors are super useful, but they’re no substitute for avoiding baby sleep mistakes. If you hear your baby stirring, a quick peek at a video monitor can tell you if it’s a full-fledged wakeup, or just some are nothing-to-see-here squirming. Sometimes you can get back to your Netflix without opening the nursery door, or quickly pop a paci back in before the situation escalates. But some parents are taking the high-tech baby monitor trend to the extreme, buying expensive wearable vital sign devices like Vida or Owlet, a “smart sock” that measures an infant’s heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. Paediatricians advise against using these kinds of cardiorespiratory monitors, as well as the sensors that go under the baby’s mattress because they can cause false alarms, which make parents anxious and lead to unnecessary ER visits and tests. The head of the AAP’s Task Force on SIDS, Dr Rachel Moon, says there’s also no evidence that these devices help prevent SIDS in healthy babies. Signing up for alerts and biometric data streaming to your smartphone is no substitute for creating a safe sleep environment for your baby. “We’re worried people will become complacent,” Moon said in a recent statement. “If they have a monitor, they might feel they can put their baby on its belly to sleep or sleep with their baby.” You still need to follow safe sleep guidelines: always put your baby into the crib on her back (not her side or her tummy); keep blankets and pillows out of the crib, and stop swaddling once your baby has learned how to roll.
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The Safety of Baby Bunting Bags
It’s tempting to add a baby bunting bag to your baby’s stroller or car seat, especially during the colder winter months.
Since baby bunting bags are sold at major retailers, they’re mainstream and often thought of as safe for your baby. But before you tuck your baby into a seemingly safe bag, consider the possible dangers. The Canadian Paediatric Society specifically warns against using baby bunting bags at all, opting for a safer alternative keeps your baby warmer and lowers the risk of suffocation.
Purpose and Types
Bunting bags are used as a way to keep baby warm while taking car trips in the winter. They can be used with the car seat, with slots for straps to anchor the bunting to the seat.
Other, more modern bunting bags are used in swaddling baby during sleep. They fasten securely around baby’s arms with Velcro for a quicker, more secure method of swaddling for babies who prefer to be swaddled during sleep.
When it comes to your car seat, major car seat manufacturers agree that you should never add aftermarket add-ons, such as bunting bags, to their seats. Doing so voids that warranty since bunting bags have not been tested for safety with the car seats.
Besides posing a safety risk in the car, a bunting bag can be a suffocation hazard. If a soft bunting bag covers your baby’s nose and mouth, it could quickly lead to a loss of air and even death.
Safety and Recommendations
Avoid using a bunting bag with a car seat. Instead, tuck a thin blanket around your baby’s shoulder securely for warmth and to reduce the risk of suffocation from thicker bunting.
If you are using a modern bunting bag for swaddling during sleep, do so by supervising your baby constantly to ensure that the bunting doesn’t unfasten and become a suffocation hazard. In some cases, baby bunting bags are used specifically for babies with special needs, but they are tested and deemed safe by the American Academy of Pediatrics before being used.
A receiving blanket or another thin blanket can be safer than a bunting bag in a car seat, but can still pose risks if used improperly. Always tuck a blanket tightly around your baby.
If your baby prefers to have his hands free, tuck the blanket around his torso rather than his shoulders to prevent the blanket from becoming untucked.
If using a bunting for sleep, choose one that has holes for both the head and arms and is more like a shirt than a blanket. This ensures your baby stays warm without posing a suffocation hazard.
Safe sleep tips
Besides keeping the crib clear of objects, there are other things to keep in mind to provide a safe sleeping environment as your child grows:
- Keeping the crib clear of blankets, pillows, and toys also mean keeping it clear of bumpers. They may look cute and match your nursery decor, but bumpers pose many of the same suffocation risks as toys and loose bedding and can also be used to aid older children in climbing out of the crib.
- Wedges, positioners, and special mattresses have not been found by the AAP to reduce SIDS and may increase risk. However, pacifiers are believed to reduce the risk trusted Source of SIDS and should be offered at sleeping times if your child uses one.
- Your child’s crib or bassinet be located in your bedroom for at least the first six months of their life (and ideally for the whole first year.) It’s not recommended to share your bed with your baby, and you should not share the bed if you have smoked, slept less than an hour in the last 24 hours, are on certain medications, or if your baby is of low birth weight. If you do choose to co-sleep with your infant, it is essential to remove all blankets, sheets, and pillows from the area where the baby will be sleeping.
- For bedtime or nap time, dress your baby in about one layer more than you’d wear yourself. To check to see if your child is too warm or cold, look for changes in breathing, check the back of their neck to see if it’s sweaty or cold, and look for flushed cheeks. (It’s recommended to keep your baby’s sleeping area on the cool side to avoid overheatingTrusted Source.)
- Stomach and side sleeping is fine once they have sufficient muscle strength to support themselves and the ability to maneuver themselves into and out of a position. As your baby learns to roll, you may notice that they begin to roll onto their stomach before falling asleep. You don’t need to go in and flip them over: Even if your baby routinely flips themselves onto their stomach, the AAP recommends that you continue to put them on their back when you place them in the crib.
- Speaking of rolling once your child begins to look like they may roll, it’s time to stop swaddling. The AAP recommends curtailing the swaddle around two months of age before your child is rolling. This is because your little one may need access to their hands to flip back over.
- With or without a blanket, it is not safe for your child to fall asleep on a couch or armchair. Your child should also not spend the night unsupervised in a swing, reclined chair, or their car seat. If you and your baby fall asleep during a feeding session, move your baby back into their crib or bassinet as soon as you wake up.
- Keep the area above and beside the crib clear of any mobiles, window treatments, or artwork. There is the potential of objects falling onto your child, and as your child becomes mobile, they can potentially pull these items onto themselves or become entangled. You can still have the cute nursery of your dreams — crib placement just need to be considered in the decorating plan.
- As your child begins to pull themselves up and stand, remember to lower the crib mattress. The temptation to climb or jump out headfirst is a strong one for young children who don’t know any better!
- Keep your child’s room baby-proofed in case they do escape from their crib. It can be a shock the first time your child learns to climb out of their crib. By being prepared, you won’t have to worry that they’ll get hurt by something in their environment before you discover they’re out of bed!
My Baby Nursery has a wide range of baby cot nursery blankets to choose from.
While blankets look comfy and inviting, they can also be dangerous in a crib with a baby. Before adding anything to your child’s sleeping space, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s safe.
If you’re wondering whether your child is ready for a pillow or blanket, remember the AAP’s recommendations, consider how mobile your baby is, and chat with their doctor at their next appointment.
As the person putting your child to sleep every night, you’re the one ensuring that they are safe and need to feel comfortable with your decision about using a blanket. The decision ultimately is yours to make!
Loose bedding increases the risk of SIDS because any loose object in the crib can suffocate or strangle the baby. Your baby should not sleep with a pillow, blanket or any toys in the crib. If wearing only a diaper does not keep your baby warm enough without the need for a blanket, lightweight pyjamas are a safer option. If you think your baby prefers sleeping in his diaper only, check the sleepwear to ensure, it is soft and free from scratchy tags and trim. If you switch to a softer fabric or swaddle your baby, he may be happier at night.