One of the easiest ways for military parents to keep their newborns safe — and decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — is to arrange a safe sleeping place before bringing them home from the hospital.
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The New Parent Support Program offers military parents classes and one-on-one support, both before and after your child is born.
Safe infant sleep tips
Here are a few ways you can create a safe sleep environment for your newborn:
- Practice “room sharing, not bed sharing,” by keeping your baby in a separate crib or bassinet in a parent’s room. Co-sleeping can lead to accidental suffocation and infant death.
- Make sure the crib mattress is firm and flat, as nearly 40 percent of U.S. infant deaths are attributed to soft bedding.
- Always place babies on their back to sleep.
- Keep the crib clear of all pillows, blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals during sleep time. Even though most crib bedding sets are sold with these accessories, an empty crib is the safest space for your newborn to sleep.
- Make sure there are no small objects, strings or wires within reach.
- Review tips for creating a safe sleep area for babies and watch the Centers for Disease Control Safe Sleeping Video for guidance.
Other ways to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS
Here are a few additional suggestions to help keep your baby safe:
- Breastfeed your baby if you can, as it is associated with better overall infant health and reduced risk of SIDS.
- Have your baby immunized, as evidence suggests that it can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent.
- Evidence has shown that pacifiers may reduce the risk of SIDS, but babies should not be forced to use one if they are not interested. You can offer a pacifier to your baby during sleep time once they are a few weeks old and breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Have conversations about safe sleeping habits with others who will be taking care of your baby, including other family members and child care providers. Consider printing and sharing safe sleep brochures with them so they will have the information on hand.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a new parent and would like help navigating your way through this rewarding yet challenging time, there are resources available to you. Your installation’s Family Advocacy Program offers a New Parent Support Program, which can provide you with one-on-one advice within the privacy of your home. The program can also answer questions you may have by offering up-to-date parenting practices supported by the latest research.