It may be hard to resist cute stuffed animals, fluffy blankets and adorable bumpers that make cribs look cozy and warm, but did you know that suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death among children under 1 year of age? In California, four babies die every week while sleeping. Nearly three-quarters of suffocation deaths among infants are from accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to reduce your baby’s risk. Soft bedding can block a baby’s airway during sleep. A firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting crib sheet is all you need to make your baby sleep like one. Room sharing is a safer option than bed sharing. Place your baby’s crib or bassinet next to your bed for more convenient feeding and close contact. Always place baby on her back to sleep, but make sure she gets plenty of supervised tummy time when she’s awake.
Follow the ABC’s of Infant Safe Sleep
A is for Alone
- Put baby to sleep alone in his or her own crib or bassinet.
- Don’t put baby to bed with other children or adults. They can accidentally suffocate a baby by lying too close to the baby’s mouth or nose, or rolling onto them while asleep.
- Keep all soft items away from baby when sleeping in crib or bassinet. Babies should not sleep with stuffed animals, pillows or blankets – soft items could accidentally fall over a baby’s face and suffocate them.
- A blanket sleeper or sleep sack will keep a baby comfortable. Don’t use heavy blankets or quilts that may overheat the baby.
B is for Back
- Put babies to sleep on their backs. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of infant sleep-related deaths.
- Teach other mothers, grandmothers and those who care for your baby that “back to sleep” is safest for babies.
- “Back to sleep” will not increase a baby’s risk of choking according to doctors.
C is for Crib
- Cribs and bassinets are the safest places for babies to sleep.
- Cribs should be free of pillows, bumpers, stuffed toys, blankets or anything that could accidentally cover your baby’s face and suffocate them. If you’re worried about keeping Lay your baby on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their baby should discuss infant safe sleeping with their lactation consultant.
Make Sure Your Crib Is Safe
- If you can fit a can of soda between the slats of a crib, that means a child’s head, hand or foot could get stuck.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and fits snugly; otherwise a child could get stuck between the gaps. Cover it with a crib sheet with nothing else in it.
- Babies should not sleep on beds, sofas, recliners, chairs, soft surfaces, bouncy chairs or baby swings. If this happens, make sure to return your baby to a safe sleep environment.
- Avoid placing a crib, bed, high chair or playpen near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall-mounted decorative accessories with cords.
- Do not hang anything on or above a baby’s crib on a string or cord.
- New parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.