October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness month and a good time to check if your little one is as safe as can be while sleeping. Safe sleep guidelines are being updated often as researchers learn more about ways to decrease your baby’s risk for SIDS. Here are five easy ways to help keep your baby safe*:
- Sleep position: The rate of SIDS has dropped by 71 per cent since the “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 90’s! Always place your baby on his back to sleep. Some parents have expressed concerns about babies choking while on their back, but anatomy and research have shown babies are safest on their back and are actually at higher risk for choking when on their tummy. Practise lots of supervised tummy time during play as this will help strengthen your baby’s neck and upper body and prevent flat areas on his head. Once your baby is rolling, continue to put place him on his back to sleep but you do not need to re-position him if he rolls on his own.
- No extra “stuff” in the crib: Your baby is safest when the crib is empty with only a firm mattress and fitted sheet. There should be no toys, sleep positioners or pillows, and no bumper pads in the crib. Also keep the crib free of blankets – swaddling for bedtime is no longer recommended. Removing these objects from the crib reduces the chances of suffocation and increases airflow around your baby. Older babies are often so resourceful they are able to use these objects to climb out of a crib!
- Temperature: Don’t let your baby get too hot. Dress baby as you dress yourself. Cool hands and feet do not always mean your baby is cold. Check the back of your baby’s neck to tell if your baby is hot or cold. The temperature of the room should be comfortable for you.
- Where they sleep: Put your baby to sleep in a crib, bassinet or cradle that meets Health Canada regulations. For the first six months, the crib, cradle or bassinet should be in your room, next to you. You are best able to monitor and respond to your baby when you sleep in the same room.
- What they sleep in: Long stretches of sleep in a car seat, bouncy chair, or a swing place baby at risk as she is in a more upright position. If her head falls forward, breathing can become difficult. If you need to lull your baby to sleep using a car seat, etc, keep a watchful eye and when baby is asleep, transfer her to a safe sleep surface, such as a crib, bassinet or cradle.
Keep in mind that grandparents may not be aware of the most current safe sleep recommendations. Be sure to pass on safe sleep information to everyone who helps care for your baby.
*For a complete list of all the safe sleep recommendations, see Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.
If you have any questions about providing a safe sleep environment for your baby, our public health nurses can help. Connect with us:
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