Did you know that September is Baby Safety Month? As a sleep consultant, I want to ensure all our little ones are as safe as possible at all times, especially when we put them to sleep. Babies spend at least 50% of their time sleeping; that’s a lot of hours! Here are some of my top tips and reminders for a safe slumber for all of your babies.
Back is best
Most importantly, always, always, always put your baby down on his or her back. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing SIDS.
Keep the crib empty
Until at least 12 months of age, babies should sleep in an empty crib or bassinet with a flat hard surface. All you need is a tight, fitted sheet on the mattress. I know it’s tempting to make your nursery cute with bumpers and stuffed animals, but please, take them out of your baby’s sleep area; these are suffocation hazards. Instead of a blanket in the crib, swaddle your baby, and if you feel your baby has outgrown the swaddle or if he’s rolling around, put him in a sleep sack, or simply use pajamas. Studies show that swaddled babies sleeping on their back are at a lower risk for SIDS than are unswaddled babies sleeping on their stomachs. When you swaddle make sure you leave enough room for their legs to extend so you prevent hip dysplasia.
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Sharing your room
Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics released the recommendation that babies sleep in the same room as a caregiver, on their own sleep surface, for at least the first 6 months of age. This may or may not feel right for your family. If you decide to move the babies to their own room before 6 months of age, please discuss with your pediatrician first.
Separate sleep spaces
If you do chose to have your babies in the same room (as most twins are), many twin parents debate whether the babies should share a crib. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed sharing of any kind, parents of twins often feel strongly about keeping their babies physically close. Regardless of your decision, once either baby starts to role, or begins to break out of the swaddle, babies should have separate sleep spaces. When able to role, babies often move a lot in their sleep. I know I wouldn’t sleep very well if my sister was constantly hitting me in the face! One simple solution to this is to have two cribs side by side, so the babies can see each other, but move freely.
Surrounding areas are important also
Carefully consider the placement of cribs in the room. Make sure that no drapery or cords from window treatments are in arms reach. Similarly, wires of any kind (particularly cameras from video monitors that are often very close to the crib) must be safely secured so babies cannot play with them. Outlets should be covered throughout the room and furniture should be bolted to the wall.
Maintain a comfortable temperature
Children sleep best in a room around 70 degrees, dressed in clothes similar to what an adult would find comfortable. Beware of overdressing your babies. Overheating increases the risk of SIDS, not to mention it is hard to sleep if you’re too hot.
Now that your nursery is set up for safe slumber, go enjoy your little ones and rest assured that they’re safe and sound!
About the Author
Lauren Lappen – MA. TLC’s Associate for Westchester and certified Sleep consultant, is the proud mother of an older daughter Ellie and fraternal twin girls Kira and Rebecca. Lauren is a graduate from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Psychology and Educational Studies, and has an MBA from Babson College. She is also an ICF certified Coach through Fielding Graduate University and always had a desire to use her coaching to help expecting and parents of young children. Alongside being our Associate for expecting parents Lauren’s passion is transforming the lives of parents where their Twins sleep needs help. You can reach Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our services in Westchester and our Twins & Sleep class/services.