Babies spend most of their time sleeping in their first year of life, which is why it’s essential to ensure that they are safe and comfortable while they sleep. The right baby sleep safety gear can make all the difference in providing a peaceful and secure sleeping environment for your little one. In this guide, we will discuss the different types of baby sleep safety gear, their use, benefits, and important safety tips to consider.
What is the ideal sleeping arrangement for a baby to ensure maximum safety?
One of the most important considerations when setting up a safe sleep environment for your baby is determining where they should sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents, but not in the same bed, for at least the first six months to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
According to the AAP, it is recommended that a newborn be placed in direct skin-to-skin contact with their parent as soon as possible after birth, for a minimum of one hour. Subsequently, when the mother needs to rest or attend to her other needs, the baby should be positioned on their back in a bassinet without any incline. This approach ensures both the emotional bond between parent and child and the safety of the baby.
Preterm infants(preemies) may require temporary prone positioning while in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), but it is important to transition them to supine positioning as soon as they achieve medical stability. This facilitates their adaptation to back sleeping before discharge.
Safe sleep guidelines for baby:
- It is crucial to always position your baby on their back while sleeping, whether it is for naps or nighttime sleep. Babies who sleep on their backs have significantly lower risks of sudden and unexpected death compared to those who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The side position can pose a problem as it allows the baby to roll more easily onto their stomach.
- Utilize a firm and flat mattress that snugly fits into the crib, ensuring there are no gaps between the mattress and the crib’s sides. A firm sleep surface reduces the risk of suffocation or entrapment.
- It is advised not to sleep with your baby on a bed, couch, or chair. According to the evidence, the AAP does not recommend bed sharing with your baby in any situation. This guidance applies to twins and other multiples as well. I must admit that sometimes we end up sleeping with our babies on the bed, especially after a long day. If this happens, ensure that there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or anything that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. While co-sleeping may provide comfort, it increases the risk of suffocation and entrapment.
- To ensure a safe and comfortable temperature for your baby, it is recommended to use a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets. This eliminates any potential hazards like covering the face or getting tangled in the bedding. Additionally, keep the room temperature between 68-72°F (20-22.2°C). Overheating can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Remove all soft objects and loose bedding from the crib, including pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and blankets. These items can potentially suffocate or strangle a baby while sleeping.
- Consider using a pacifier during naps and bedtime as it has been associated with a lower risk of SIDS. However, if the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while they are sleeping, there is no need to put it back in.
- Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first six months of a baby’s life, and studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. It provides essential nutrients and antibodies that can help fight off infections and illnesses.
- It is essential to keep the crib in a safe location away from any hazards like cords, curtains, or blinds. These items pose a risk of strangulation or entrapment if they are within reach of your baby.
- As your baby grows and starts to roll over, it is crucial to adjust the crib mattress to its lowest setting to prevent falls. Additionally, ensure that the crib slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 cm) apart to prevent your baby’s head from getting stuck.
- Avoid using sleep positioners or wedges, as they can increase the risk of suffocation or injury. The only exception is if recommended by a healthcare professional for specific medical conditions.
- When it comes to co-sleeping, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants sleep in the same room as their parents, but not in the same bed. If you choose to co-sleep, make sure to follow all safety guidelines and never leave your baby unattended on an adult bed or couch.
- Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and other similar items. These objects can increase the risk of suffocation or strangulation.
- Swaddling can provide a sense of security and comfort for newborns, but it is essential to do it correctly and safely. Always make sure your baby’s arms are free and that they are placed on their back while swaddled. Once your baby starts to roll over, it is time to stop swaddling.
- When choosing a sleep sack or wearable blanket, make sure it is the right size for your baby. A too-large or too-small sleep sack can pose safety risks such as suffocation or overheating.
Additional Tips for Safe Baby Sleep:
- Only place a baby in a sleep surface which can be a crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards set by CPSC. The standards include requirements for the spacing between slats, mattress size, and firmness, and corner post height requirements. Here is a link to Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines on safe baby sleep.
- Ensure the baby sleep product you are buying such as the crib hasn’t been recalled. We constantly share on our blog here about recealled baby gear but can also directly check on CPSC’s website on recalls here. You can filter your search on CPSC’s Recalls website to only give you info on recalled items specific to baby sleep. On the dropdown list of category of items, choose these categories; cribs, crib bumpers, crib mobile and gym, bassinets and cradles, convertible beds, pacifiers, play yards, and mattresses. As of December 2023, you’ll find some of the latest recalled sleep products such as RestWell Mattress which was recalled in August 2023 for suffocation hazards, and Pottery Barn Convertible crib recalled for laceration hazard.
- Select a mattress that is specifically designed for your crib and ensures a snug fit. Use only a fitted sheet in the crib for your baby, avoiding any additional items.
- If a sleep surface complies with the 2021 CPSC rule, it may be used. The 2021 CPSC rule mandates adherence to existing federal safety standards for cribs, bassinets, portable cribs, or play yards. This includes inclined sleep products, hammocks, baby boxes, in-bed sleepers, baby nests and pods, compact bassinets, travel bassinets, and baby tents. It is recommended to avoid any product that does not meet federal safety standards. We stopped recommending baby loungers after the Federal ban on inclined sleepers.
- If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, it is recommended to promptly transfer them to a firm sleep surface, lying on their back. These other items may increase the risk of suffocation or positional asphyxiation if not used correctly.
Now let’s take a closer look at the different types of baby sleep safety gear that can help create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for your little one.
Essential Safe Baby Sleep Gear:
Swaddling is the practice of wrapping your baby in a thin blanket or cloth to mimic the feeling of being inside the womb. It helps soothe and comfort newborns by providing them with a sense of security. Swaddling also prevents the startle reflex, which can often wake up a sleeping baby. When choosing a swaddle, make sure it is made of breathable fabric and has adjustable closures to ensure a snug but not too tight fit. Here is a guide on how to swaddle your baby.
- Promotes longer and better sleep for babies by reducing sudden movements
- Helps soothe colicky babies
- Can calm down an overstimulated or fussy baby
- Creates a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for newborns
- Always make sure the swaddle is not too tight, as it can restrict proper movement and cause overheating.
- Do not swaddle your baby when they are able to roll onto their stomach, as this increases the risk of suffocation.
- Stop swaddling your baby once they start to show signs of trying to roll over.
Bassinets are small, portable beds designed for newborns and infants. They provide a cozy sleeping space for babies and allow parents to keep their little one close by during the night. When choosing a bassinet, make sure it has a sturdy base, breathable sides, and a firm mattress. Also, ensure that the bassinet is placed on a flat and stable surface to avoid tipping over.
- Provides a safe and snug sleeping space for newborns and infants
- Can easily be moved from room to room, making it convenient for parents
- Helps babies transition from sleeping in a crib to their own bed
- Allows parents to keep a close eye on their baby while they sleep
- Always follow the weight limit indicated by the manufacturer to prevent the bassinet from collapsing.
- Make sure that the mattress fits snugly in the bassinet without any gaps, to avoid suffocation.
- Do not place any loose items such as blankets, pillows, or toys in the bassinet with your baby.
Cribs are the traditional choice for babies to sleep in. They come in different sizes and styles, and many have the option to convert into a toddler bed as your child grows. When choosing a crib, make sure it meets current safety standards, has adjustable mattress height levels, and has no gaps or sharp edges that could injure your baby.
- Provides a secure and comfortable sleeping space for babies
- Can easily be converted into a toddler bed, saving parents money in the long run
- Offers plenty of room for your baby to move around and grow
- Comes in various styles and designs to fit any nursery theme
- Make sure the crib meets current safety standards such as proper spacing of slats and no drop sides.
- Regularly check the hardware and tighten any loose bolts or screws to prevent the crib from collapsing.
- Avoid using crib bumpers, as they can pose a suffocation hazard for babies.
A firm and snug-fitting mattress is crucial for safe sleep in a crib. Make sure the mattress fits properly with no gaps between it and the sides of the crib.
- Provides a comfortable sleeping surface for babies
- Can be used as your child grows, as many mattresses fit both cribs and toddler beds
- Offers proper support for a baby’s developing body
- Choose a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib.
- Do not use extra padding or covers on the mattress, as they can increase the risk of suffocation.
- Regularly check for any signs of wear and tear and replace the mattress when needed.
Cribs should be equipped with a fitted sheet and nothing else. This includes blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or any other soft objects that can pose suffocation hazards.
- Keeps babies comfortable while they sleep
- Easy to change and wash when needed
- Creates a safe and clutter-free sleeping environment for babies
- Only use a fitted sheet that fits the crib mattress snugly.
- Avoid using any other bedding items in the crib, as they can increase the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Regularly wash and change the bedding to maintain good hygiene for your baby’s sleeping environment.
A night light can provide a dim, comforting glow that can make it easier for babies to fall back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night.
- Can help calm and soothe babies during nighttime awakenings
- Provides enough light for parents to check on their baby without disturbing them
- Use a night light with a low-wattage bulb to prevent it from getting too hot.
- Place the night light at least three feet away from your baby’s crib.
- Avoid using colored lights, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and cause confusion for babies.
Small Sleep-insights Monitor:
A small sleep-insights monitor can track your baby’s sleeping patterns and provide helpful information for better sleep management. Some brands such as Nanit, Miku, Cubo and Owlet use sensor fusion or computer vision technology to track your baby’s sleep and breathing.
- Can provide insight into your baby’s sleeping patterns, helping you identify any potential issues or disruptions.
- Some monitors also have a feature that alerts parents if their baby’s breathing stops or becomes irregular.
- Make sure the monitor is securely attached to the crib or placed out of reach of your baby.
- Avoid using blankets, toys or other objects near the monitor that could potentially obstruct its sensors.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and placement of the monitor.
Baby Sleep Sack:
A baby sleep sack is a wearable blanket designed to keep your baby warm and safe while they sleep. It eliminates the need for loose blankets in the crib, reducing the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Promotes safe sleep by eliminating loose blankets in the crib.
- Can help regulate your baby’s body temperature and prevent them from getting too hot or cold while sleeping.
- Choose a sleep sack that is appropriate for your baby’s age and size, not too big or small.
- Make sure the sleep sack fits snugly and does not ride up over your baby’s face.
- Check for proper ventilation to avoid overheating.
White Noise Machine:
A white noise machine can create a soothing sound environment that mimics the familiar sounds of the womb, helping babies fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
- Can help your baby fall asleep by drowning out other noises that could potentially disrupt their sleep.
- Creates a consistent and calming environment for babies, promoting better sleep habits.
- Can help drown out any outside noises that may disturb your baby’s sleep
- Use a white noise or nature sounds machine, avoid using music with lyrics.
- Place the sound machine at least three feet away from your baby’s crib.
- Make sure the volume is set to a safe and comfortable level for your baby’s delicate ears.
- Use a volume level that is safe for babies, typically around 50-60 decibels.
- Choose a machine that has a timer to automatically shut off after a certain amount of time to avoid prolonged exposure.
How to dress your baby to sleep:
When it comes to dressing your baby for sleep, the general rule of thumb is to dress them in one additional layer from what you would wear. However, it’s important to consider the temperature and humidity of your baby’s room as well.
- Use a wearable blanket or sleep sack instead of loose blankets to reduce the risk of suffocation and SIDS.
- Consider using gown-like sleepwear: Numerous parents and caregivers find it convenient to choose sleep clothing that can be easily opened at the bottom. This particular design allows for quick and effortless pulling up and down of the garment when changing a baby’s diaper during the night.
- Make sure your baby’s clothing fits well and is not too tight, which can restrict movement.
- Keep an eye on your baby’s temperature by feeling their chest or back – they should feel warm but not overheated. If they are sweating or their skin feels hot, remove a layer of clothing.