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For babies, sleep time is the longest time each day they are without the constant supervision of their parents or caregivers. For this reason, setting up a safe sleep environment is essential.
Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned parent who is welcoming a new addition into your family, it’s important to be aware of and to follow current sleep safety guidelines. When you do, you too will get a better night’s sleep knowing that your baby is sleeping in the safest environment possible.
To set up a safe sleep environment:
1. Put your baby to sleep in a safe sleep space. Babies should sleep in a safe crib with a firm mattress and a fitted sheet. As of June, 2011, all cribs made or sold must comply with new safer crib standards. These standards include the elimination of cribs with drop-side rails from the marketplace as they pose a significant safety to risk to children. For more information on choosing a safe crib, visit the website of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA.org). JPMA is a national trade organization that offers safety certification for cribs.
2. Put your baby to sleep alone. Nothing should be in your baby’s sleep space but your baby. Pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, loose toys or any other soft items should not be placed in your baby’s crib. Instead of a blanket, opt for a light, wearable sleep sack to keep your baby comfortable at night.
3. Put your baby to sleep in a safe location. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for the first six months of life, a baby should sleep in a crib in his parent’s room. According to the Academy, there is growing evidence that a reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is related to room sharing. Your baby’s room should also be free from passive smoke as secondhand smoke is associated with an increase risk of SIDS and other health issues.
4. Put your baby to sleep in a cool room. Your baby’s room should feel comfortable to a lightly clothed adult. Your baby should be dressed lightly for sleep and the room temperature for your baby’s room should be kept no higher than 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid overheating.
5. Put your baby to sleep in a safe position. Healthy babies should always be put to sleep on their backs. Since the Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the incidence of SIDS has dropped by more than 50%.
While there is no replacement for vigilant supervision and regularly checking on your sleeping baby, setting up a safe sleep environment can eliminate many known safety risks and can give you peace of mind knowing your baby has been put to sleep in the safest environment possible.
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