Instilling Safe Sleeping Habits in Infants By Diana Fournier

Teaching your children how to have good safe sleeping habits is one of the best gifts you can give them. When you’re able to just lay your infant down and they fall asleep on their own, they are learning to build that independence that is so important to growing up and thriving. Yearly more than 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping oftentimes due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation.

Recommendations for Infant Safe Sleep

  • Until their first birthday babies should be laid down to sleep on their backs. We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach. Some parents do worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening. Even babies with GERD should sleep on their backs. Some babies will roll onto their stomachs. You should always place your baby on their back to sleep. If they are capable of rolling from front to back and back to front you may allow them to sleep on their stomach.

  • Do not ever place blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby. If your baby were to roll over into them while sleeping it could create a block of airflow, suffocating the baby.

  • Use a firm sleeping surface. A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended along with a firm mattress and tight-fitting fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby that is lying in it on it’s back. To check if it is a firm surface or not look when the baby is lying in it. If it indents then it is not firm enough and it recommended you switch the mattress.

  • Swaddling- It is ok to swaddle your baby. However, once they are able to roll over in either direction it is time to stop. Your baby needs to be able to lift themselves up even a little bit to move their hide side to side when on their belly.

  • A pacifier at nap or bedtime will also help reduce the risk of SIDS. It’s a good tool to use to help them learn how to self sooth as well.

  • Do not ever put your child to bed with a bottle or a sippy cup. Milk and Juice have sugar in them which can cause an infant’s teeth to develop cavities or to develop bottle rot.

Ways to help develop good sleeping habits

  • Develop a schedule- set a regular bedtime and wakeup time, naps and mealtimes. Staying on a consistent schedule helps make infants feel secure.

  • Follow the same bedtime routine every evening- an example would be a warm bath, followed by cuddling and soft talking while taking a bottle. Avoid allowing your infant to fall asleep during feedings. This will help make it so they are not dependent on eating to sleep. You can rock them for a bit until they are groggy. It’s best to develop a bedtime routine that you could do anywhere you are.

  • Lay your infant down once they are groggy. Allow them a chance to settle down and get comfy and fall asleep on their own. Children may fuss or even cry a bit at first but should quickly settle down. The more consistent you are with this in the beginning, the easier it will be for the baby to transition to falling asleep not being held. It may take a couple of nights but they will learn that skill. A good idea is to start slowly. Do five mins the first night and if they can’t fall asleep then rock them. Each night after that increase it by a couple of minutes. Within a week sometimes a little less/more, you should have developed the skill to fall asleep on their own.

  • White Noise Machines or Gentle music at night may help them soothe themselves and fall asleep.

The key to good sleep habits is to stay as consistent as possible. These habits will help ease changes like traveling and switching from a crib to a bed. They will serve your child for a lifetime.

These are all things we practice here at Brighton Montessori to help our infants sleep well. Napping and sleeping well at night is very important for them. Crucial physical and mental development occurs during early childhood. Naps provide time for much-needed growth and rejuvenation. Napping also helps keep kids from becoming overtired, which not only affects their moods but may also make it harder for them to fall asleep at bedtime or cause them to be cranky in the evening.

If you’d like more tips or have questions on safe sleep or developing good sleeping habits in infants please feel free to stop by Infant Community 2 and talk to Ms. Diana.

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