How Military Parents Can Create Safe Sleeping Environments for Infants
One of the easiest ways for military parents to keep your children safe – and avoid the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS – is to arrange for a safe sleep place before your infant comes 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 simple ways to create a safe sleep environment for your newborn:
- Practice “room sharing, not bed sharing,” with the infant in a separate crib or bassinet set up 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 your baby on his or her 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 extra accessories, an empty crib is the safest space for your infant to sleep.
- Make sure there are no small objects, strings or wires within reach.
Other ways to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS
Safe infant sleep practices aren’t the only way you can avoid SIDS:
- If you’re able to, breastfeeding is associated with better overall infant health and reduced risk of SIDS.
- Evidence suggests that having your infant immunized can reduce their risk of SIDS by up to 50 percent.
- Evidence has shown that pacifiers may reduce the risk of SIDS, but don't force your baby to take the pacifier if he or she is not interested. You can offer a pacifier to your baby during sleep time once your baby is a few weeks old and breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Conversations about safe-sleep habits with others who take care of your baby are crucial, including other family members and child care providers.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a new parent and would like some help navigating this rewarding and challenging time, there are resources for you. Your installation’s Family Advocacy Program offers a New Parent Support Program that can offer you one-on-one advice in your home, and can answer any question you may have with the most up-to-date parenting practices supported by the latest research.