Nothing prepares you for parenting. You can read all the books ever written, watch all the online tutorials available and speak to as many moms as you can find, but nothing prepares you for parenting. It’s amazing, terrifying, energising and exhausting in equal measure.
Nothing is quite as disconcerting for new moms as nighttime. The first time you lay your little one down to sleep at night chances are you’re going to get almost zero sleep yourself. You will be so enchanting by their tiny snuffling snores and so petrified that something may happen in the night that causes them harm that you will sleep with one eye open.
Worrying too much does nobody any good but being aware of the very real dangers is essential. More than 3,500 infants are lost suddenly and unexpectedly each year while sleeping in the U.S. These accidental deaths are often due to suffocation, strangulation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Obviously you can’t keep vigil each and every night, that’s simply not realistic. A good parent is a well-rested parent. So what can you do to give yourself some peace of mind and ensure your baby is in a safe sleeping environment.
Well, read on below and I will give you some essential tips to ensure your little bundle of beautiful gets the safe sleep they need to blossom…
Chances are you’re not going to want to let the little one too far from your side anyway so this should be an easy one – keep the baby’s sleeping area in the same room as you sleep for at least the first six months, ideally a year.
Try and keep the baby’s crib as close to your own bed as possible. Some parents advocate bed sharing but unless a lot of precautions are taken this can result in added danger.
When a baby share a common sleeping apace the calm presence of the mom actually helps to settle the child. Heart rate, breathing, anxiety levels and body temperature are all better regulated when sleeping close to their parents.
It’s been stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) that room sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much 50%.
Room sharing will also bring the added benefit of making easier for you to feed, change and generally comfort the baby throughout the night.
Ensure The Baby Sleeps On Its Back And The Bed Is Hard
While you may think that a baby’s bed should be as nice and soft as possible to ensure they get a comfortable sleep, you would be quite mistaken. The surface on which your baby sleeps should be firm. How firm? Well firm enough that it doesn’t indent when your baby is placed upon it.
Studies have shown that babies who sleep on soft surfaces are at an increased risk of SIDS. Similarly placing infants to sleep on a couch or in another child’s or adult’s bed can also increase the risk.
The risk of SIDS is also increased if babies are allowed to sleep on their sides or stomach. It’s very important to ensure that a baby is placed to sleep on their backs at all time, this is equally true for nap times as it is for bedtimes.
It’s understandable that some parents worry that babies can choke while on their backs but in reality, the anatomy of a child’s airwave won’t let that happen, the gag reflex will be engaged.
Ensure The Baby’s Mattress Fits The Crib
As well as being firm enough you need to ensure that your baby’s mattress fits the crib or bassinet they sleep in with an extremely snug fit.
Ensuring a tight fit is vitally important, without a firm edge your baby can get trapped between the mattress and crib walls, this can easily lead to injury and can sometimes result in something far worse.
So, when you making the purchase of your baby’s crib and mattress always check the fit, and then check it again. One rule of thumb to be aware of is that if you can squeeze more than two fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, then the mattress is too small and you need to keep shopping around.
Some cribs are advertised to reduce the risk of SIDS, there isn’t a huge amount of evidence to support these claims. You should always buy a crib that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Ensure The Crib Is Empty
The AAP’s safe sleep rules also stress that there should nothing else present in the crib at night apart from a fitted sheet. This means absolutely no toys, rattles etc. It also means no soft bedding, no sleep positioners, no extra blankets and no bumper pads. Anything extra left in the crib can potentially lead to strangulation or suffocation.
Well, there you have it, four tips to help ensure your better get a safe sleep and you have some peace of mind. I know it can be scary but the chances of anything happening to your little one are extremely rare, that however doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as prepared as possible.
Remember also, if you’re ever in doubt about anything to with safe baby sleeping always refer to the AAP guidelines for advice.