Tips for Your Baby
- Couch: Couches are too soft for a new baby and present hazards, such as the baby rolling into the corners or getting stuck in the back of the couch. The baby could also roll off the couch which could cause a serious injury.
- Air Mattress: Most air mattresses are not able to maintain their firmness through the day/night. Infants can suffocate on an air mattress, or become entrapped between the mattress and bed frame or between the mattress and wall Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- Car Seat: While babies often fall asleep in a car seat when traveling, “sitting devices” such as swings and car seats should not be used for naps and overnight sleep. A baby’s airway is soft and can be crimped off when their head is in a poor position. Baby needs to be laid flat for sleep. Once home, it’s safest to remove the baby from the car seat and place them in their own empty crib.
- Adult Bed: Placing infants in adult beds is associated with three times the risk of suffocation or SIDS, even among parents who do not drink, smoke or take drugs; the risks are even higher for parents who do (AAP). Adult beds are dangerous because the mattresses are too soft. Baby can roll off the bed and/or get stuck between the mattress and wall, headboard, footboard or other furniture and suffocate. There’s also the risk of parents rolling over onto the baby.
- On Your Chest: While people love to take and post those sweet pictures of a parent and baby napping together, it isn’t the safest method of sleep for your baby. Once a baby falls asleep, place the baby in their empty cribs to avoid any possible dangers of the baby moving from that position into one of risk.
- Is your baby hungry? Keep track of feedings and look for early hunger signs like lip smacking or moving his/her fists to mouth.
- Does your baby have an upset stomach? No solid food, etc. until told by doctor. Left side helps digestion, or stomach for support. Gently rub baby’s back.
- Does your baby have a food sensitivity? Change diet if breastfeeding. Reduce the amount of dairy products or caffeine. Avoid spicy foods or foods that give you gas.
- Is baby wet or soiled? Change your baby’s diaper. Avoid bright lights and loud noises when you change your baby.
- Is baby bored? Quietly sing or hum a song, or play soft music. Go for a walk outside if weather allows.
- Is baby overstimulated? AAP states no screen time under age 2.
- The 5 S’s. Dr. Harvey Karp, safe sleep advocate and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block has developed a soothing technique that closely mirrors the conditions of the womb.
- Ways to keep your baby warm enough without using a blanket. Put baby in a sleep sack. Adjust room temperature if necessary. A good rule of thumb is baby needs no more than 1 layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable. If you are comfortable in 1 layer, baby needs 2.
- How can you tell if your baby is overheated? The recommended temperature for the room is 68–72 degrees. Signs for overheating include sweating, or baby’s chest is hot to the touch. Check the back of the baby’s neck or tummy. This will provide an idea of baby’s core temperature.
- How you can tell if your baby is too cold. Cool fingers and toes do not mean the baby is cold. Use the back of baby’s neck to check core temperature. Is the baby fussy and restless?
- Why do SIDS rates rise in the winter? Higher likelihood of over-bundling and therefore overheating the baby. Increase in respiratory illnesses that compromise breathing.
- Ways to keep your baby cool in the summer. Be sure to use an air conditioner in the home and the car. When outdoors with your baby, be sure to not let him or her fall asleep in the stroller or car seat. Always have a cloth and cool water that you can wipe your baby down with while outside and away from the home.
- Nap at the same time as your baby. Your laundry and shower can wait. When you are tired and stressed, your baby may be too.
- Develop a routine and stick with it. Routine is the key to establishing good sleep habits. A nice bath, singing a song or reading a story are opportunities to bond and calm a child before bed. Infants and children who are overtired have more difficulty falling and staying asleep — get babies to bed before they get overtired (NCH).
- Put the baby in their crib while still awake. This teaches the child to fall asleep by themselves and not rely on an adult to help (NCH).
- Share Your Room, Not Your Bed. Place the baby in their own bed near where you sleep so you will still be able to hear them. This may help with how often you stir or wake up to check on your baby.
- Expose your baby to natural sunlight and fresh air. Natural sunlight will help to develop your baby’s biological clock and circadian rhythms. This development will encourage sleep rhythms that match your own and will ensure a better chance that your baby will sleep longer at night. Include daily walks and time spent outdoors in the fresh air into your daily routine. Daily walks are a healing, low impact exercise for mom and can also help with the symptoms of postpartum depression.
- Ask for help. Do not hesitate to ask family, friends or trusted neighbors for help when you feel parental exhaustion presenting itself. Assume kindness and know that your “village” would be thrilled to help. Always be certain to review your safe sleep plan with caretakers before leaving your baby in their care. Having someone care for your baby while you get some rest can make a world of difference.
- Avoid the quiet zone. Keep the noise level in your home at normal levels when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Never insist on silence when the baby is napping or being put down for the night. Your baby is accustomed to loud noises from the womb. Acclimating your baby to the noises in your home will allow you to avoid adding a layer of unnecessary stress by disrupting your family’s lifestyle.
- Remain calm. If you become agitated or frustrated while trying to put your baby down for a nap, the baby will feel your irritation and become agitated as well. If you are alone, place your baby in her safe sleep space and take a few moments to compose yourself. Explore calming breathing techniques that help with anxiety. Always include your partner in your safe sleep routine. The tag team method is not only effective, but encourages family bonding.
- Explore sleep training techniques. When your baby is between four and six months old, serious sleep training becomes an option that you can explore. There are many methods to choose from. Each demands a serious commitment on the part of parents and caretakers alike. While researching methods, choose one that you feel 100% comfortable with and be sure practice the method consistently.
- Stick to the same routines. This is helpful with creating consistency.
- Always follow the ABCs of safe sleep for EVERY night, EVERY nap and EVERY time your grandbaby sleeps. A baby is safest sleeping Alone, on his/her Back, in a safety-approved, empty Crib (AAP).
- Keep your grandbaby’s crib and other furniture away from windows and blinds. Your grandbaby is safer without any strings or cords within reach (Safe Kids Worldwide).
- Do NOT allow anyone to smoke around your grandbaby — this includes in the car or in the home. If someone has smoked, ask them to change their clothes and wash their hands before holding your grandbaby.
- The culture of infant sleep has changed since you have raised your baby. Explore the history of Safe Sleep and the Back to Sleep Campaign.
Bringing your baby home is such an exciting time, but can also be incredibly overwhelming. Parental exhaustion is the number one issue facing parents today. It can affect your work and relationships and may interrupt the bonding process between you and your baby.
We have gathered some tips and helpful hints that will allow you to establish a routine that will work for your family during this time of transition. Be sure to check out our resources section for even more parenting advice.
Tips for Sleeping Success
- Creating a Safe Sleep plan using our approved Safe Sleep Guidelines will allow you to feel confident that your baby is as safe as he or she can be at night. This will let you sleep more soundly, limiting the chances that parental exhaustion will occur.
- Always put your baby down drowsy but not fully asleep. This will allow your baby to acclimate to his or her sleep surroundings and will help your baby sleep better in the long run. Doing this every time will enable your baby to connect the dots that this space means sleep. It will also limit startled cries in the night when the baby wakes in an area that they did not fall asleep in.
- Keep the noise level in your home at normal levels when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Never insist on silence when the baby is napping or being put down for the night, your baby is accustomed to loud noises from the womb. Acclimating your baby to the sounds in your home will allow you to avoid adding a layer of unnecessary stress by disrupting your family's lifestyle.
- Natural sunlight will help to develop your baby's biological clock and circadian rhythms. This development will encourage sleep rhythms that match your own and will ensure a better chance that your baby will sleep longer at night. Include daily walks and time spent outdoors in the fresh air into your daily routine. Daily walks are also healing, low impact exercise for mom and can help to fight postpartum depression.
Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, has developed the 5 S's, a solid routine that mimics the soothing sensations of the womb. The 5 S's, when done correctly, are a great addition to your pre-bedtime routine. They will help calm your newborn baby in preparation for a good night's sleep.
Wrapping your baby in a blanket to its shoulders (swaddling) helps to recreate the snugness of the womb and does wonders for calming a newborn baby. As soon as a baby begins to move around freely or shows signs of trying to roll over, it is recommended that you cease this practice.
- Side or Stomach Position
Although placing him on his back is the only safe way to sleep your baby, it is not the most significant method of calming him while fussy and tired. Holding a fussy baby on their side or under the tummy while facing down works wonders while soothing.
The sound of blood flow inside a mother's womb is louder than a vacuum cleaner. Your baby is used to this constant loud sound so recreating the shushing noise could be just the ticket to calm them and lull them to sleep.
Your baby is missing the constant movement she experienced while in the womb. A great way to recreate that movement is to safely hold the baby in the side or stomach position while swinging yourself from side to side from the waist.
Sucking on a pacifier triggers a calming reflex in your baby. This self-soother has also been shown to lessen the risk of SIDS if given to a baby at bedtime. As long as you plan to be vigilant about removing the pacifier at the correct age, there is no reason not to allow your baby to indulge.
Always Ask for Help
If you become agitated or frustrated while trying to put your baby down for a nap, the baby will feel your irritation and become agitated as well. If you are alone, place your baby in her safe sleep space and take a few moments to compose yourself. Explore calming breathing techniques that help with anxiety. Always include your partner in your sleep routine. The tag team method is not only practical but encourages family bonding as well.
Do not hesitate to ask family, friends or trusted neighbors for help when you feel parental exhaustion presenting itself. Assume kindness and know that your "village" would be thrilled to help. Always be sure to review your safe sleep plan with caretakers before leaving your baby in their care. Having someone care for your baby while you get some rest can make a world of difference.
Each year, approximately 3,500 babies die while sleeping in unsafe sleep environments in the United States. These babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID). Babies are most vulnerable between the ages of one and four months, but the risk continues until one year of age.
How you can help
Educating yourself on the dangers of SIDS and SUID will help you create a solid Safe Sleep plan for your baby. This is your best defense for keeping your baby healthy and safe. Follow these established Safe Sleep Guidelines for every sleep, during naps, and at bedtime.
Back to Sleep Every Time
Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. When your baby is placed on their tummy to sleep, the chances of SIDS increases due to the risk of the baby rebreathing. Rebreathing occurs when an air pocket is created in the bedding that allows your baby to re-breathe carbon dioxide while limiting the intake of oxygen.
You can feel confident that placing your baby on his or her back for every sleep is the best thing that you can do to keep your baby safe.
Create a Safe Sleep Environment
Your baby should always sleep in a crib, bassinet, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The mattress should be firm, and the sleep space should be empty except for a tightly fitted sheet.
Never place stuffed animals, soft bedding, blankets, pillows, wedges, or positioners into your baby's sleep space. Never use crib bumpers as rebreathing can occur if the baby gets trapped against the side of the crib.
Always Sleep your Baby in their Designated Safe Sleep Environment
Never allow your baby to sleep on a sofa, cushioned chair, bouncy seat, stroller, sling, swing, or car seat. If your baby falls asleep in one of these environments, take care to move him or her to their designated safe sleep space as soon as possible.
The risk of SIDS is five times higher when a baby is laying on a soft surface, and rebreathing can easily occur while a baby is sleeping in their car seat, a sling or their stroller.
Share your Room, NOT your Bed
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you sleep in the same room as your baby for at least the first six months and optimally for your baby's entire first year. Placing a safety-approved bassinet or play yard next to your bed is the perfect safe sleep solution for room sharing.
Never bring your baby into bed with you at night to avoid the risk of accidental suffocation. It is perfectly safe for your baby to nap in their nursery crib during the day as long as it meets the Safe Sleep guidelines.
When your baby is too warm, he or she is at an increased risk for SIDS. Be sure to always keep the temperature in the baby's sleeping area between 68 and 72 degrees. Check for signs that your baby is overheated, such as a warm chest, sweaty forehead, or unusually restless sleep.
A baby normally needs just one additional layer of clothing than what you are wearing to be comfortable. To sleep comfortably in the colder months, the use of a zippered sleep sack worn over your baby’s pajamas is an appropriate replacement for blankets and soft bedding.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use Around your Baby
If you smoked or used drugs and/or alcohol during your pregnancy, your baby has an increased of dying of SIDS. Please be sure to follow these Safe Sleep guidelines closely for every sleep.
When your baby is exposed to second-hand smoke in the home, it compromises the health of their lungs and nasal passages, limiting their healthy intake of oxygen. Never allow your baby to be cared for in a home that is not smoke-free. Be sure to limit exposure to people that have residual second-hand smoke lingering on their clothing.
The use of alcohol or drugs while caring for your baby severely limits your ability to monitor and care for them properly. If you bring your baby into bed with you while under the influence there is a greater chance of suffocation due to your inability to sense danger and wake yourself from your slumber.
Steps You Can Take to Lower the Risk of SIDS
Studies have shown that breastfeeding your baby will lower their chances of dying from SIDS by 50%. The AAP recommends that your baby be exclusively breastfed, or be given expressed breast milk for at least the first six months and optimally for the first year of his or her life.
The use of pacifiers while falling asleep has been shown to lower the risk of SIDS by 90%. Never use a pacifier that is attached to your baby’s clothing or to a stuffed toy while your baby is sleeping to reduce the risk of strangulation or suffocation.
Be sure to schedule and attend all baby well visits with your pediatrician. This will ensure that your baby is up to date on all of his or her vaccinations. Studies have shown that immunizations have a protective effect against SIDS.
These guidelines will help you to create a solid Safe Sleep Plan for your baby. Be sure to share your Safe Sleep Plan with your baby's caregivers. Always be diligent in following up with them to make sure that they are adhering to your Safe Sleep rules.
Follow the ABCs of SafeSleep
Babies should always sleep ALONE and in an empty crib.
Babies should always sleep on their BACKS.
An empty CRIB, with a firm mattress and fitted sheet is safest.