Ask the BJC Expert

Ask the BJC Expert

Sleep Safety Precautions for Infants

Published on Thursday, August 20, 2020

Sleep Safety Precautions for Infants

Sleep Safety for Babies

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is an unexplained death during sleep of a baby less than one year old. It is one of the leading causes of death among babies and falls under the umbrella of sudden unexpected infant death, or SUID, which also includes accidental suffocation and strangulation. The majority of cases occur before a baby reaches six months of age. However, research has shown that by practicing safe sleep precautions through your baby's first birthday, you can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.

Follow the A, B, C, Ds of safe sleep for all sleep times, including naps.

A - Alone

Your baby should be the cutest — and only — thing in the crib. Do not put soft objects, toys, crib bumpers or loose bedding like a blanket over the baby or anywhere in their sleep area, as all of these items could be a cause of suffocation. While we recommend sharing your room with your baby, this does not mean your bed. Your baby should sleep alone in their own sleep area and on a surface designed for infants.

B - Back is Best

When putting your baby down for sleep, remember the back is always best. This ensures your baby’s airway remains open. A baby sleeping on its belly has a much greater chance of the airway closing and SIDS developing.

C - Crib

Choose a crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

D - Don't Smoke Around Baby

Smoking should not occur around the baby, as secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS. Keep baby zones smoke-free before and after the baby is born. Make sure people who smoke wash their hands and change their clothes before holding your baby.

More helpful guidelines and tips include:

Stay Warm Safely

If it gets cold at night, consider a sleeper or swaddle. However, be sure to stop swaddling your baby with arms in as soon they show signs of rolling over. You can then move to a swaddle with arms out or try a wearable blanket. Be careful not to over bundle, as overheating can lead to SIDS.

Check the Surroundings

Keep an eye out for what is around your baby’s crib that could be hazardous. A window with blind cords or a mobile could carry the risk of entrapment or strangulation.

Call Safety Stop

Safety Stop is a free, appointment-only child safety resource covering all aspects of sleep, car seat, helmet and home safety education. Our sleep safety consultations are one-on-one, allowing us to focus on both your needs and your baby’s needs.

Safety Stop is currently available by phone only. Please call 314.565.0369 or visit stlouischildrens.org/safetystop for more information.

Libby Anvender is a community education instructor for Safety Stop.

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