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How to Create a Safe Sleeping Environment for Infants

baby sleeps in crib

One way military parents can keep their newborns safe — and decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS — is to arrange a safe sleep place before their baby arrives.

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There are three important things all parents or caregivers need to do to ensure their baby is in a safe sleep environment. Here are the doctor-recommended ABCs for safe sleep:

  • Alone: Babies should always sleep alone in their own sleep space.
  • Back: Babies should always sleep on their back.
  • Crib: Babies should always sleep on a firm, flat surface such as a crib or bassinet during naptime and at night.

Creating a safe sleep environment

A safe sleep environment lowers the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. Here are a few ways you can create a safe space for your baby:

  • 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.
  • Breastfeed your baby if you can, as it is associated with better overall infant health and a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Offer a pacifier to your baby during sleep time once they are a few weeks old and breastfeeding is firmly established. 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.
  • Make sure your infant’s crib mattress is firm and flat. A high percentage of U.S. infant deaths are attributed to soft bedding.
  • Keep the crib clear of all pillows, blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals during sleep time. Even though some crib bedding sets are sold with these 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.
  • Review guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for creating a safe sleep area for babies, which includes a safe sleep video.
  • Don’t let your baby get overheated.

Here are some tips for when you travel:

  • Ensure that your baby is in a safe sleep environment everywhere you go by creating a plan for when you are at home and for times when you aren’t. Find out what’s available before you travel, and bring a portable crib that complies with American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, if needed.
  • Have conversations about safe sleep 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.

Learn more about safe sleep and AAP guidelines, including myths associated with safe sleep recommendations, through this Military OneSource podcast. And be sure to talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your baby or their sleep environment.

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