Learning About Safe Sleep for Babies

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Why is safe sleep important?

Enjoy your time with your baby, and know that you can do a few things to keep your baby safe. Following safe sleep guidelines can help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and reduce other sleep-related risks. SIDS is the death of a baby younger than 1 year with no known cause.

Talk about these safety steps with your child care providers, family, friends, and anyone else who spends time with your baby. Explain in detail what you expect them to do. Do not assume that people who care for your baby know these guidelines.

What are the tips for safe sleep?

Putting your baby to sleep

  • Put your baby to sleep on his or her back, not on the side or tummy. This reduces the risk of SIDS.
  • Once your baby learns to roll from the back to the belly, you do not need to keep shifting your baby onto his or her back. But keep putting your baby down to sleep on his or her back.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature so that your baby can sleep in lightweight clothes without a blanket. Usually, the temperature is about right if an adult can wear a long-sleeved T-shirt and pants without feeling cold. Make sure that your baby doesn't get too warm. Your baby is likely too warm if he or she sweats or tosses and turns a lot.
  • Consider offering your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime if your doctor agrees.
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that babies sleep in their own crib.
  • When your baby is awake and someone is watching, allow your baby to spend some time on his or her belly. This helps your baby get strong and may help prevent flat spots on the back of the head.

Cribs, cradles, bassinets, and bedding

  • For the first 6 months, have your baby sleep in a crib, cradle, or bassinet in the same room where you sleep.
  • Keep soft items and loose bedding out of the crib. Items such as blankets, stuffed animals, toys, and pillows could block your baby's mouth or trap your baby. Dress your baby in sleepers instead of using blankets.
  • Make sure that your baby's crib has a firm mattress (with a fitted sheet). Don't use bumper pads or other products that attach to crib slats or sides. They could block your baby's mouth or trap your baby.
  • Do not place your baby in a car seat, sling, swing, bouncer, stroller, couch, or armchair to sleep. The safest place for a baby is in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets safety standards.

What else is important to know?

More about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is very rare.

In most cases, a parent or other caregiver puts the baby—who seems healthy—down to sleep and returns later to find that the baby has died. No one is at fault when a baby dies of SIDS. A SIDS death cannot be predicted, and in many cases it cannot be prevented.

Doctors do not know what causes SIDS. It seems to happen more often in premature and low-birth-weight babies. It also is seen more often in babies whose mothers did not get medical care during the pregnancy and in babies whose mothers smoke.

Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in the house or around your baby. Exposure to smoke increases the risk of SIDS. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Breastfeeding your child may help prevent SIDS.

Be wary of products that are billed as helping prevent SIDS. Talk to your doctor before buying any product that claims to reduce SIDS risk.

What to do while still pregnant

  • See your doctor regularly. Women who see a doctor early in and throughout their pregnancies are less likely to have babies who die of SIDS.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, which can help prevent a premature baby or a baby with a low birth weight.
  • Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in the house or around you. Smoking or exposure to smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. Alcohol or drug use may cause your baby to be born early.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: September 20, 2016