BHealthy Blog

5 Ways to Help Baby Sleep Safely

Every year in the United States, thousands of sleep-related deaths occur in infants less than 1 year of age.

The three commonly reported types of sudden unexpected infant deaths include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unknown cause and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. Many of these tragedies are preventable with the right tools and education about safe sleep practices. Parents should talk to their child’s doctor if they have questions about the best sleeping position for their baby.

At Baptist Health, we are committed to educating our parents about good safe sleep practices and how to ensure that they are doing everything they can to prevent unsafe sleep environments. Here are 5 things you can do to ensure your baby has a safe sleep environment:

1. Place your baby on their back to sleep

It is not safe to place babies on their sides or stomachs to sleep, not even for a nap. The safest sleep position is on the back. Babies who sleep on their backs are at lower risk for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) than babies who sleep on their stomach or sides. If a baby usually sleeps on their back, putting them on the stomach or side to sleep increases the risk for SUIDS by up to 45 times, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

What if the baby rolls over? Once babies can roll from back to stomach and stomach to back on their own, you can leave them in the position they choose after starting sleep on their back. If they can only roll one way on their own, you can reposition them to their back.

2. Use a sleep surface that is firm, flat, and only covered by a fitted sheet

Sleeping on soft surfaces— like couches or recliners, raises the baby’s risk of wedging or entrapment, suffocations, and strangulation. Inclined or tilted surfaces are not safe for babies to sleep on because the baby’s body can slide down, which could block their airway and breathing. You should also avoid letting baby nap while sitting slumped over with their chin on their chest because this could also inhibit their breathing. If the baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller or other carrying device, gently move the baby to an appropriate sleep space as soon as possible.

3. Share your room with your baby (not your bed)

Room sharing by putting the baby’s sleep space (crib, bassinet or portable play yard) near, but not in, your bed is safer than sharing your bed with the baby. It’s recommended to room share with your infant for at least the first six months. Keeping the baby’s sleep space close to your bed also makes it easier for you to check on, feed and comfort the baby.

4. Keep things out of your baby’s sleep area

Toys, crib bumpers, loose blankets and other objects should be removed from your infant’s crib, bassinet or play yard while sleeping. Research links crib bumpers and bedding other than a fitted sheet covering the baby’s mattress to serious injuries and deaths from SUIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Things in the sleep area can pose dangers for baby, especially if they are soft or squishy like pillows or toys, sheets even if light-weight, or weighted like blankets.

5. Avoid letting baby get too hot while sleeping

Babies can get hot or overheated if they are wearing too many layers of clothing. Overheated babies are at higher risk for SUIDS and heat-related death. Dressing baby in a wearable blanket, like Halo sleep sacks, can keep them warm without adding items to the sleep area. Watch for signs that baby is too hot, such as sweating, flushing/red or hot skin, or baby’s chest feeling hot to the touch.

Find a pediatrician near you

Regular visits to a healthcare provider for wellness exams and vaccinations are vital to your infant’s development. Our pediatricians and family medicine physicians provide your child with expert pediatric care for a wide range of both illnesses and chronic conditions, from common colds to asthma. The Baptist Health pediatrics team also offers the full spectrum of wellness care and preventive services by keeping your child up to date on important vaccines and screenings. Find a pediatrician near you.