10 Safe Infant Sleep Best Practices that Might Save an Infant’s Life

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Just yesterday, a study was published in Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) about dangers of placing infants on sofas. According to the article, about 1 in 8 crib death cases occur among infants who have been placed on sofas. Although the journal has previously demonstrated the dangers of couches to infants, this recent study sought to identify the factors significant in these deaths, like the tendency of parents to lay their infants face down on a sofa rather than face up. The bottom line? These infant deaths are 100% preventable; parents and caregivers just need to be educated regarding safe infant sleep practices.

Always keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.

Safe infant sleep practices, and practices regarding infant health and safety in general, are an integral component to Realityworks’ Total Parenting Experience (TPE) product line. Several lessons from the RealCare Basic Infant Care curriculum (which is included with several TPE products) focus on safe infant sleep habits, and a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome fact sheet is included in the curricula’s lesson on Flathead Syndrome.

For anyone looking for simple, easy-to-understand safe infant sleep best practices, we recommend the following list of Top 10 Safe Infant Sleep Best Practices, which can also be found in our Basic Infant Care curriculum:

  1. Always place the infant on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night; it is the safest.
  2. Always place the infant on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. Never place the infant to sleep on pillows, quilts, sheepskins or other soft surfaces.
  3. Always keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area. Do not use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins and pillow-like crib bumpers in the infant’s sleep area, and keep any other items away from the infant’s face.
  4. Never allow smoking around the infant.
  5. Keep the infant’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. The infant should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children, but he or she can sleep in the same room as you. If you bring the infant into bed with you to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle or a bedside co-sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished.
  6. Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep, but do not force the infant to take it. (If you are breastfeeding, wait until the infant is one month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)
  7. Do not let the infant overheat during sleep. Dress the infant in light sleep clothing, and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
  8. Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.
  9. Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other conditions, talk to your health care provider.
  10. To reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on the infant’s head from too much time on his or her back, provide “tummy time” when the infant is awake and someone is watching; change the direction that the infant lies in the crib from one week to the next; and avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, and bouncers.

This year is the 20th anniversary for the Safe to Sleep® campaign, which started in 1994 to educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS. We encourage you to visit the campaign’s website for more information, data sheets and campaign materials.