When it comes to taking care of your newborn, most things are instinctual. Feed, burp, change diapers and, of course, put the baby down for naps. Lots of them. But what may seem like a no-brainer -- your baby sleeping in her crib -- actually requires some forethought and safety education.
“There’s a short list of things all new parents should know,” says Michael Goodstein, M.D., F.A.A.P., attending neonatologist at York Hospital in York, Penn., and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics SIDS task force. At the top of that list: “Babies should be put on their backs to sleep to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.” SIDS is the leading cause of death in children younger than the age of 1; it’s most common in infants between 2 and 4 months of age.
Goodstein also recommends the following baby sleeping practices, endorsed by the AAP:
- Place baby to sleep on her back on a firm, solid surface such as a crib mattress or play yard mat with a well-fitting sheet.
- Avoid the use of pillows, loose bedding (blankets and sheets), crib bumpers, sleep positioners and stuffed animals for the first year of life.
- Place the baby’s crib or bassinet in your bedroom within arm’s reach of your bed. Co-sleeping with your baby in your bed is not recommended. “Babies can be brought into bed for cuddling and feeding, but not sleep time,” says Goodstein.
- Baby should always sleep in a smoke-free environment.
- Do not place blankets or sheets over baby’s head, and do not over-bundle her with bedding or clothing. Overheating can be dangerous; signs include flushed cheeks, sweating, damp hair and rapid breathing. Make sure the room temperature is comfortable for a lightly dressed adult.
- Give your baby tummy time while she’s awake.
When it’s time to register for your baby shower or when you’re out shopping for the nursery, remember to choose goods that help facilitate safe sleep practices. A few of our favorite baby sleeping products:
Skip Hop Complete Sheet Bumper-Free Bedding comes in adorable patterns and gives you the style of a crib bumper without having to use one. Brilliant. (Bonus: A wearable blanket is included in the set!)
Halo 100 Percent Organic Cotton SleepSack Swaddle makes swaddling simple and gives you the option of keeping arms in or out.
Arm’s Reach Co-Sleepers are bassinets with a unique feature: an open side and fastening system that lets you secure it to the side of your bed. Many styles are available; the Mini is perfect for travel.
$139 and up
Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic Cotton Lightweight Baby Crib & Toddler Mattress features hypoallergenic fabric and a waterproof surface. But best of all, it eliminates concerns over toxic fire-retardant chemicals by providing naturally derived fire resistance made from cellulose, baking soda and hydrated silica.