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Safe sleep practices for babies are essential in lowering infant mortality. With all the many things to learn about raising a new baby, safe sleep practices are among the most important. But sleep deprivation and the stressors of parenting can lead many new parents to feel uncertain and confused about how to keep their sleeping baby safe. The ABC’s of safe sleep simplify safe sleep practices for babies by highlighting the three most important facets of safe sleep during the first 12 months of life: babies should sleep alone, on their back, and in a crib.
Let’s break down the ABC’s of safe sleep further.
The ABC’s of Safe Sleep for Babies
The A in ABC’s of safe sleep stands for Alone. Babies should not share a sleep surface with other adults, children, or even stuffed animals or toys. Bedsharing with babies is not recommended, as caregivers can inadvertently compromise a baby’s airway while sleeping due to rolling or movement of blankets and pillows.
Babies are safest sleeping on their own, with nothing in the crib but a pacifier and a tight-fitting sheet. For warmth, babies can be swaddled if they aren’t yet rolling. Once learning to roll, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises to stop swaddling with arms-in. From then on, babies can wear a wearable blanket like a sleep sack.
While bedsharing is not advised, room sharing is recommended for the first 6-12 months of life. Baby’s crib or bassinet can be placed in the room with their parent or caregiver, making nighttime care easier and reducing the risk of SIDS.
The B in ABC’s of safe sleep stands for Back. Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep. In the 1990s, the AAP recommended that all babies be placed to sleep on their backs. This simple intervention reduced the rate of SIDS by more than 40%.
Some parents worry about babies spitting up and choking in their sleep if placed on their backs. However, studies have shown that there is no increase in infant deaths from choking while babies sleep on their backs. Babies’ bodies are designed to cough or swallow spit up during sleep.
The C is ABC’s of safe sleep stands for Crib. Babies should sleep in a crib or bassinet with a firm, well-fitting mattress. Babies should never sleep in an adult bed or sofa. It is not recommended to babies to sleep in inclined products such as baby swings or bouncers. Babies should only sleep in their car seat while traveling in the car; once arriving back at home, it’s best to transfer your baby back to their crib or bassinet.
Follow the ABC’s of Safe Sleep
Following the ABC’s of Safe Sleep greatly reduces infant mortality in the first year of life. When babies sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib, incidences of infant mortality are greatly reduced.
However, following safe sleep practices is sometimes easier said than done. If you’re struggling from lack of sleep, consider hiring professional support for overnight baby care. Well-rested parents make safer decisions and can better enjoy their new roles as parents.