It’s normal for new parents to worry about the health of their baby and wonder what they can do to help keep them healthy and safe. For many parents co-sleeping seems like the best way to keep their child safe at night, but is it safe?
The truth is, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in his or her own crib or bassinet. Not only is it important for you and your baby to have your own space at night but it also helps your baby develop better sleep habits. If your baby gets used to sleeping with you every night they won’t develop the independence they need to have healthy sleep habits in the future.
Many new parents worry about SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS, is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant during sleep. This normally affects babies between the ages of one and six months. This is a very rare occurrence. About 2500 infants die of SIDS in the US each year. While that number may seem high, make sure you keep in mind that there are over four million babies born in the US each year. Also, death rates have dropped by almost 50% since the beginning of the Back to Sleep Campaign launched in 2004. This campaign reminds parents of the importance of training their infants to sleep on their backs.
There are risk factors for SIDS, but there are also things you can do to reduce your child’s chance of SIDS. First, have a healthy pregnancy. Premature birth and low birth weight are a risk factor, but the chances of these can be reduced if you eat a healthy diet and make sure you get good prenatal care.
You also should stay away from cigarettes during your pregnancy. Exposure to smoke before and after birth can be a significant risk factor for SIDS. In fact, this exposure nearly doubles the chance of a child having SIDS.
Next, make sure your baby always sleeps on his or her back. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep your child safe. Research has shown that this also cuts the risk of SIDS nearly in half. In addition to that, making sure that your baby has a safe sleeping environment is important. Avoid letting your baby sleep on soft surfaces that he or she can sink into such as couches, soft bedding, and beanbags.
Some researchers claim that co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDS, as well. But there aren’t any conclusive facts that show this. Of course, if you do decide to co-sleep, you should make sure to do it safely. Before you sleep, make sure the bed is free of any hazards for your baby. Avoid having piles of blankets and soft pillows surrounding your baby to avoid suffocation. You should also never sleep with your baby if you have been using drugs and alcohol.
Your top priority is always your baby’s safety and these tips will help keep your baby safe and reduce your worrying.