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. We have the best range of baby nursery blankets to keep your baby just right day and night.
Important Things to Remember.
- You should always place your baby on their back to sleep and not on their front or side (unless your doctor has advised you of a medical reason to do so)
- Sleeping a baby on their front or side significantly increases the chance of SIDS
- You must always put your baby on their back as part of their regular sleep routine – the likelihood of SIDS is exceptionally high for babies who are sometimes placed on their front or side
Where Should a Newborn Sleep?
What’s the safest sleep position for my baby? Can she have a blanket or pillow in her crib? And is it OK for her to sleep in bed with me? Chances are, you have lots of questions about how to put your baby to sleep safely. Here are safe sleep tips for babies.
If Your Baby Rolls Onto Their Tummy
Once your baby can move themselves from their back to their front and back again by themselves, they will be able to find their sleeping position. The first few times they roll onto their tummy, you might like to turn them back gently, but do not feel you have to get up all night to check. Give them some time to play on their tummy while awake to help their development, but make sure you supervise them while they are on their front.
Share a Room, but Not a Bed.
Having your baby sleep in your room for at least the first six months (and ideally up to a year) can help lower the risk of SIDS by up to 50 per cent. And, of course, keeping her nearby makes for easier nighttime feedings if you’re breastfeeding. But you should avoid cosleeping (letting your baby sleep in your bed), says the AAP. Always keep her in her bassinet or crib since your bed’s pillows and blankets could pose a danger. And there are the added risks of the baby falling off the bed and of someone accidentally rolling onto her overnight.
Put Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib or Bassinet.
Whether your newborn sleeps in a bassinet or crib when you first bring her home is up to you. Babies can also sleep in a play yard or portable crib. No matter what you choose, the product should meet the latest CPSC guidelines.
The Importance of Routine in Reducing the Risk of Sids
The best way to make sure your baby sleeps on their back is to do this from day one and keep putting them to sleep on their backs for every day and night time sleep. It is also essential that you keep the same routine for your baby, as babies who usually sleep on their backs but sometimes sleep on their fronts are at significant risk of sudden death.
Infant Sleep Safety Recommendations
Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night. We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach. Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening. Even babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) should sleep on their backs.
Newborns should be placed skin-to-skin with their mother as soon after birth as possible, at least for the first hour. After that, or when the mother needs to sleep or cannot do skin-to-skin, babies should be placed on their backs in the bassinet. While preemies may need to be on their stomachs temporarily while in the NICU due to breathing problems, they should be placed on their backs after the problems resolve so that they can get used to being on their backs and before going home.
Some Babies Will Roll Onto Their Stomachs.
You should always place your baby to sleep on the back, but if your baby is comfortable rolling both ways (back to tummy, tummy to back), then you do not have to return your baby to the back. However, be sure that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby so that your baby does not roll into any of those items, which could block airflow.
If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move him or her to a firm sleep surface on his or her back as soon as possible.
Use a Firm Sleep Surface.
A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended, along with a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it. Bedside sleepers that meet CPSC safety standards may be an option, but there are no published studies that have examined the safety of these products. In addition, some crib mattresses and sleep surfaces are advertised to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that this is true, but parents can use these products if they meet CPSC safety standards.
Only Bring Your Baby Into Your Bed to Feed or Comfort.
Place your baby back in his or her own sleep space when you are ready to go to sleep. If there is any possibility that you might fall asleep, make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could cover your baby’s face, head, and neck or overheat your baby. As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to his or her bed. Looking for bedding manchester for the baby nursery? Look no further! My Baby Nursery has you covered.
Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies. However, certain situations make bed-sharing even more dangerous. Therefore, you should not bed share with your baby if:
- Your baby is younger than four months old.
- Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
- You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
- The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy.
- You have taken any medicines or drugs that might make it harder for you to wake up.
- You drank some alcohol.
- You are not the baby’s parent.
- The surface is soft, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
- There is soft bedding like pillows or blankets on the bed.
Room share—keep the baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first six months or, ideally, for the first year. Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard in your bedroom, close to your bed. The AAP recommends room-sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than bed-sharing. In addition, room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.
Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area. These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products attached to crib slats or sides. If you are worried about your baby getting cold, you can use infant sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket. In general, your baby should be dressed with only one layer more than you are wearing.
Do Not Let Your Child Fall Asleep on Nursing Pillows or Pillow-Like Lounging Pads.
Babies may roll over onto their sides or stomachs and turn their heads into the soft fabric. Or, when propped up on an incline against the pillow or lounger, their leaders can fall forward, blocking their airway. The CPSC warns that more than two dozen infants died between 2012 and 2018 when left on or near these products.
It Is Ok to Swaddle Your Baby.
However, make sure that the baby is always on his or her back when swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for the baby to breathe or move its hips. When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling.
Try Giving a Pacifier at Nap Time and Bedtime.
This helps reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after the baby is asleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. If you are not breastfeeding your baby, you can start the pacifier whenever you like. It’s OK if your baby doesn’t want a pacifier. You can try offering again later, but some babies don’t like them. If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back in.
What Else Parents Can Do: Recommendations for Prenatal & Postnatal
Do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born. Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you are a smoker or smoked during pregnancy, you mustn’t do bed share with your baby. Also, keep your car and home smoke-free. Don’t smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.
Do not use alcohol or illicit drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born. It is essential not to bed share with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol or taking any medicines or illicit drugs to make it harder for you to wake up.
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS. Breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breast milk. The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about six months. Even after you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months or longer if you and your baby desire.
Schedule and go to all well-child visits. Your baby will receive necessary immunizations at these doctor visits. Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS.
Make sure your baby has tummy time while awake every day. An awake adult should supervise awake tummy time. This helps with the baby’s motor development and prevents flat head syndrome. See Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play for more information and ways to play with the baby during tummy time.
Use Caution When Buying Products.
Use caution when a product claims to reduce the risk of SIDS. According to the AAP, wedges, positioners, special mattresses, and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Do not rely on the home heart or breathing monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using these monitors for other health conditions, talk with your pediatrician. There isn’t enough research on bedside or in-bed sleepers. The AAP can’t recommend for or against these products because no studies have looked at their effect on SIDS or if they increase the risk of injury and death from suffocation.
The Safest Sleep Position for Your Baby: FAQs
My Baby Was Born Prematurely and Slept on Her Front in the Hospital. Is it Ok to Sleep on Her Show at Home as Well?
Some babies born prematurely and spent some time in a neonatal unit may have been sleeping on their fronts for medical reasons. Remember that babies in neonatal units are under constant supervision. By the time your baby comes home, they should be sleeping on their back.
Babies may find it hard to adjust from a sleeping position they have been used to, so persevere and do speak to your paediatrician if you are concerned. Front-sleeping should only be continued for ongoing medical reasons on the advice of your paediatrician.
Is a Baby Sleeping on Their Back More Likely to Choke on Their Vomit?
Some parents worry that by sleeping their baby on the back, they will be at a greater risk of choking on their vomit. However, no research has found this to be the case, and we now know that babies are far safer sleeping on their backs.
My Mum Says I Slept on My Front and That Was the Advice Then, Why Has it Changed?
Many parents will have slept on their tummies as babies, as that was the advice before 1991. However, research has since shown that the chance of SIDS is much higher when a baby is placed on their front to sleep.
We know that in the early 1990s, there were thousands of babies worldwide dying suddenly and unexpectedly every year. The number of deaths is much lower now due to the new advice being followed by parents, such as lying babies on their backs to sleep.
My baby loves sleeping on his front; how do we change to his back without him waking up?
We sometimes get calls from parents who say their baby prefers sleeping on their front. If a baby is given a choice, they may well like this position, but unfortunately, it is not a safe one!
This is why we encourage all parents to follow back-sleeping from day one. Getting your baby to stick to sleeping on their back once if they have tried sleeping on their front might be difficult, but it is made easier if your baby is always put down to sleep whilst awake rather than allowing your baby to fall asleep in your arms. Keep going; they will eventually get used to it.
Is Sleeping a Baby on Their Front Better for Babies With Reflux?
All babies should sleep on their backs unless there is medical advice saying something different. If your baby has reflux, or any other ongoing health condition, speak to your doctor about the best care for them.
You should not sleep your baby on their front unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional.
Will a Sleep Positioner Help Keep My Baby on Their Back to Sleep and Lower the Risk of Sids?
There is no need to use any equipment or rolled up blankets to keep your baby in one position unless a health professional has advised you of a specific medical condition.
It is much safer for your baby to be in their cot (take a look at our range of mattresses for baby cots) with just the sheets or blankets and no extras which could be pulled over their face or cause an accident. As babies grow more robust, they learn to move and roll, and this is fine.