By Brittney Stefanic
Are you overwhelmed?
Having a new baby at home is incredibly joyous and super exciting! At the same time, many parents are met with an unfamiliar sense of overwhelm and fear of the unknown at some point during their first year of parenthood.
Let’s be real… There are SO MANY CHOICES and so much information available these days which can easily send even the most rational new parent into a tailspin – crib mattresses, bassinets, swaddles, pacifiers and the list goes on! Everywhere you turn, you have to make yet another decision.
For many families, the most daunting task of all is understanding the basics of sleep for their new bundle (and themselves). Before baby arrives, we are all warned of the long nights and the sheer exhaustion, and with so much concern about sleep, the details of safe sleep can get lost in the shuffle.
Simplifying safe sleep
No matter the age of your little one, the most important piece of sleep knowledge for you to remember that it is your job to ensure that baby is sleeping in a safe sleep environment flat on their back without added items in their crib or bassinet.
Safety is paramount for all sleepers, especially during the first year of life. It is recommended that you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the safe sleep recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The brief overview is this:
- Use a firm mattress in a crib, bassinet or Pack and Play
- Place nothing in the crib or bassinet (leave out all bumpers, stuffed animals, blankets, toys)
- Offer the pacifier at sleep onset
- Put your baby down on his or her back
Ideal room temperature should ideally be 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit
If ever in question, remember the ABCs of safe sleep from the AAP: Alone, on their Backs in an empty Crib or bassinet! Since blankets are a big no go, the Zippy Swaddle or Zipadee-Zip are both great ways to add an extra layer and ensure they are comfortable.
If your newborn (under 12 weeks) is in a swaddle, it is important that the swaddle fits correctly. When fitting a swaddle, be sure to provide enough room for your baby to move their legs so the hip joints can develop normally. Also, remember to keep your baby at the right temperature and don’t overdress. If it is warm out, can you place baby in a diaper and dress in a short sleeved onesie if you are using a swaddle, too!
What about rolling?
If your little one has started to roll, it is important to remove them from a swaddle. If there are no signs of rolling by 12 weeks, it is still recommended to remove the swaddle as this new milestone is likely right around the corner.
Parents often wonder what to do if they lay baby on their back to sleep and baby rolls on their own at some point during the night to their stomach. As long as baby is able to roll on their own, and the sleep space is safe, parents are encouraged to leave baby in the position they rolled into on their own. That said, if you are ever in doubt about baby’s safety, quickly enter their sleep space to check on them.
This is a frequently asked question per the National Institutes of Health Safe Sleep Basics, Question: If my baby rolls onto his or her stomach during sleep, do I need to put my baby in the back sleep position again?” Answer: “No. Rolling over is an important and natural part of your baby's growth. Most babies start rolling over on their own around 4 to 6 months of age. If your baby rolls over on his or her own during sleep, you do not need to turn the baby back over onto his or her back. The important thing is that your baby start every sleep time on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS, and that there is no soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding under baby, over baby, or anywhere in baby's sleep area.”
So, check for an always safe sleep space, every time and work on lots of lots of tummy time to allow baby to build the strength and skill to roll both ways!
7 things you can do TODAY to promote safe sleep TONIGHT
- Give your babe LOTS of tummy time practice to strengthen their neck. You can make this fun and interactive by getting down on the floor with them, enticing them with bells, books, mirrors and new noises. If you have an older sibling in the house, consider having big brother or sister play a rolling game with baby, too so that the whole family can be involved!
- Make sure that there are no loose items in their crib or bassinet, including blankets, bears, bunnies and bumpers. Boring, sort of. Safe, always!
- Set the thermostat of your house between 68 and 72 degrees to ensure proper temperature regulation during the night. If the temperature is outside of this range, consider a fan in baby’s room or alter the PJs they are wearing to bed.
- Always lay your baby down on their back to sleep, even if you know they are going to roll to get comfortable.
- Use a properly fitted sheet on the bassinet or crib mattress, but no added wedges, pillows, cushions or extras!
- If you are using a sleep product such as a Rock ‘n Play, Dock-A-Tot or swing, please note that these are NOT recommended for prolonged sleep periods or for unattended situations. These products are intended to be a space to lay baby when you are cooking dinner, doing a workout or taking a shower but nearby and able to keep a continuous eye on baby.
- Consider a transitional item such as a Zipadee-Zip to help baby feel more secure at night while still being able to roll around and get comfortable especially as transitioning out of the swaddle.
Please note that the information in this post is shared from a position of expertise and love. There is no judgment or shame, only education because knowledge is power.
If you have questions about sleep safety, a quick call to your pediatrician will clarify things for you. There is typical a nurses’ line that will allow you to get all your safe sleep questions answered so you can rest well and sleep worry-free tonight!
Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers®. She is safe sleep advocate and believes in the power of educating families in the area of sleep safety. Brittney and her team love educating and support families around the world in finding sleep solutions through their customized sleep plans. You can follow the Sleeper Teachers® on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook @sleeperteachers for funny Reels, lots of blogs and frequent sleep Q&A sessions.