Live in Montgomery or Greene County? Need a safe sleep space for your baby?
Call our Cribs for Kids program for free safe sleep education and a pack and play if:
- You are a resident of Montgomery or Greene Co.
- You are at least 32 weeks pregnant or have a baby under 1 year of age
- You have no safe sleep space for your baby or ability to obtain one.
Want to learn more? Become a Safe Sleep Ambassador! Register for a free online class.
Safe Sleep 101: The problem
Did you know that in Ohio, 3 babies die every week due to unsafe sleep? While some of these deaths may be due to SIDS and their cause is unknown, many of them are due to suffocation caused by blankets, pillows, or sharing a sleep space with a parent or sibling. These losses are mostly preventable if we all follow the ABCs of safe sleep!
Safe Sleep 101: The Basics
So how can you protect your baby while they sleep? Following the ABCs of safe sleep until your baby turns 1 is a great place to start:
“There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.”
– N.K. Jemisin
Babies should always sleep alone. This means no objects in the bed like blankets, toys, pillows, or bumper pads. This also means no other people in the bed (or pets!). Remember, some babies are dying from suffocation on these objects. An empty crib may not be the cutest, but it is the safest.
Even though your baby shouldn’t share your bed, it is encouraged for them to share your room for at least the first 6 months of life. Placing your baby’s pack and play, crib or bassinet next to your bed makes it easier to tend to them at night and to breastfeed!
The safest position for your baby to sleep is always on his or her back. This is news to a lot of people, especially for grandmas and grandpas who were taught different things. But we’ve learned a lot, and science has shown that placing babies to sleep on their backs is the best way to reduce the risk of choking.
When baby is on his back, any vomit will fall back into the ‘food tube’ or the esophagus. This is where we want it to go—back to the stomach where it came from! But if you place baby on their belly, it is much easier for any vomit to fall into the breathing tube, or trachea, which will go to the lungs. If this happens, the baby will choke and have trouble breathing, which may lead to suffocation and death. The best way to prevent this is to place baby to sleep on his back every time he sleeps.
What about rolling over? The American Academy of Pediatrics – the experts on all things baby – recommends even when your baby starts to roll, that you still place the baby on their back to sleep. If your baby can roll on their own and moves to their belly during sleep, it’s okay to leave them there. But your part in keeping baby safe is to place them on their back every time they sleep, at least until they reach their first birthday.
It’s important that every time baby sleeps, you place her in a crib, pack and play, or bassinet. That means no couch, no recliner, no adult bed, no inclined sleepers, no bouncers, and no breastfeeding pillows. Your crib should have a flat, firm mattress. A tightly fitted sheet over the mattress is safe, but no other blankets or mattress pads should be used. Products that are not designed for sleep increase risk of suffocation and death.
There are a lot of products out right now that look like they are safe for your baby to sleep in. They may even be called ‘sleepers’ and show a sleeping baby on the box. But if it is not a crib, pack and play, or bassinet, it is not recommended for sleep, and may increase the risk of your baby suffocating while they sleep. Many of these products have been recalled, or even banned, but that doesn’t keep them from being sold second-hand at garage sales or online. To look up whether a product has been recalled and for more information about crib safety, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov/SafeSleep
Safe Sleep 102: More than just ABC
So you’ve mastered the ABCs of safe sleep, but want to know if there is more for you to do? We can help with that!
Second-hand smoke is one of the biggest risk factors for SIDS and other sleep related deaths. Chemicals in the smoke actually affect a baby’s brain and how they control their breathing. The best way to prevent this is to get help to quit smoking and to avoid secondhand smoking during pregnancy and when they baby is born. The good news is, quitting at any time has benefits, even if the baby is already here. If you or your partner need help with resources to quit smoking, call our Baby & Me Tobacco Free program at 937-496-3282.
Breastfeeding comes with a lot of benefits, but did you know it also reduces the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths? And the longer a baby is breastfed, the lower that risk becomes!
If you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, it’s important to make sure you take a few precautions for those late-night feedings. Keep your baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed for easy access for feedings. If it’s late and you’re tired, some parents find it helpful to set an alarm so if they do doze off during a feeding, they know the alarm will help them make sure baby gets back in their own sleep space. If you are very tired, know that it is more dangerous to accidentally fall asleep with your baby in an armchair or the couch instead of your bed. Set that alarm, feed in the safest space possible, remove all extra items like blankets and pillows, and find support in your family, friends, a lactation consultant, home visitor, or a breastfeeding support group.
Breastfeeding and safe sleep are not always easy, but your baby’s life is worth it!
What about pacifiers? Pacifiers actually reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related deaths, but it’s important to hold off on using one until breastfeeding has been established – usually about 1 month of age.
Need breastfeeding support? Call the Montgomery County WIC Office at 937-225-6166.
What’s tummy time? It’s what we call the time when baby is placed on their stomach while they are awake and someone is watching. There are fancy mats designed for tummy time, but you don’t need any equipment to do tummy time with your baby, just you, your baby, and a clean surface.
What does tummy time have to do with safe sleep? Tummy time helps to make baby’s neck and shoulder muscles strong! Stronger muscles help baby sit, roll over, and crawl. Those stronger muscles help reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS or other sleep-related deaths. Plus, it helps prevent your baby from developing a flat spot on their head, since they will be sleeping on their back.
Help your baby with tummy time starting on the day you bring them home from the hospital, unless your pediatrician says something differently. A few tummy time sessions a day for just a few minutes at a time will provide the most benefit for your baby. Set out some toys or interesting and safe things for your baby to interact with to make it more enjoyable for baby. Remember, the most important rules of tummy time are making sure baby is awake and that they are supervised.
It may not be easy – but your baby’s life is worth it
The ABCs may sound simple, but it often takes some work and planning to make sure you can follow them. Talk with your partner, your doctor, your parents, your home visitor, and your nurse about safe sleep and how you can plan ahead to keep your baby safe. See our Safe Sleep Plan here to help you plan ahead for safe sleep!
Do you need a safe sleep space for your baby? We can help with that! Call our Cribs for Kids program at 937-496-6831.
Need a car seat or want to learn more about car seat safety? Call Goodwill Easter Seals at 937-528-6301.
Can my baby sleep in a bedside sleeper?
There are many products available that are called ‘bedside sleepers.’ These can look like a bassinet or crib, but usually have a side that folds down for easy access to baby at night. While this may seem like it is following the ABCs of safe sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (the experts!) cannot recommend using these for sleep. There is not enough research to prove that they are safe for your baby.
Can my baby sleep in a pack and play?
Yes! Pack and plays are safe for sleep. They have a firm, flat mattress, are enclosed with no bumper pads, and are a safe, separate space for baby. As long as your baby is within the recommended weight limit for your pack and play, it is safe for your baby to sleep in. Be careful of extra products for sale! Some companies sell softer mattresses, extra padding, and blankets for the pack and play. These are not necessary and can be very dangerous for your baby. The only thing that you may want to use is a fitted sheet that fits snugly over the mattress.
What if my baby gets cold?
It’s important to avoid overheating your baby because overheating is a risk for SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, like suffocation. It’s harder to breathe when it’s hot! A good rule of thumb is if you are cold, your baby is probably cold. If you are warm, your baby is probably warm. If your baby is cold while sleeping, it is not safe to place a blanket over them. This can make it hard for them to breathe, and babies are not always strong enough to move blankets or other objects out of the way. Instead, put your baby in a warmer onesie, sleep sack, or wearable blanket to keep them cozy and safe while they sleep.
What about pacifiers?
Pacifiers actually reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep-related deaths, but it’s important to hold off on using one until breastfeeding has been established – usually about 1 month of age.
How do I know what products are recalled?
If you are unsure about whether a product is safe, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov/SafeSleep.
Should I use a product that claims to reduce the risk of SIDS?
There are no products on the market that are proven to prevent SIDS. Some of these products actually increase the risk of injury or death such as wedges and ‘positioners,’ and some products have been recalled. Many of these products are still available at garage sales or second-hand websites. Before you buy something that claims to protect your baby from SIDS or sleep-related deaths, remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Can’t my baby die from SIDS even if they are in their crib?
Most babies that died in their sleep in our community over the last few years did not die from SIDS – they died from suffocation or asphyxia because their breathing was cut off. Technically, yes, a baby can die from SIDS even if they are following the ABCs of safe sleep. But babies can also die in car accidents while they are in a car seat. That doesn’t mean we don’t use car seats! Some babies that die in their sleep do not die from SIDS, but from suffocation due to sleeping on their belly, with objects or people, or on a mattress that is too soft. Following the ABCs of safe sleep is always the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
If I sleep with my baby, won’t I know if something is wrong?
Unfortunately, a baby dying from suffocation or SIDS looks just like a baby who is sleeping peacefully. There is no big warning, no terrible cry, and no flashing sign. It is not likely that you will notice a problem, and sleeping in the same bed with your baby actually increases the risk of suffocation. It is especially dangerous to sleep with your baby if you or your partner smoke cigarettes, have drank alcohol or consumed medicine or substances that make you drowsy, and if more than one person is sharing the bed with the baby.
Help! My mother wants to put my baby on their stomach to sleep!
Your mother is following the advice that was given back when you were a baby. That was the best information we had then, but we know a lot more now. Talk to your mother about why the ABCs of safe sleep is recommended, show her this website, and encourage her to become a Safe Sleep Ambassador. It is important that everyone who watches your baby is on the same page when it comes to safe sleep.
- Every Parent Matters home visiting program for dads
- Cribs for Kids program
- Safe Sleep Ambassador Training
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Policy Explained
- Safe Sleep Basics from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Safe Sleep 101 from National Institute for Children’s Health Quality
- Infant Safe Sleep Information from the Ohio Department of Health
- Safe Sleep Plan