Navigating life as a new mom can be challenging. Between nurturing first moments, balancing new responsibilities and juggling a variety of tasks, nap time is a cherished moment in the day.
But for many new and expectant moms, it’s also a source of worry. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) takes the lives of a number babies in Canada each year, usually in their sleep.
While the cause of SIDS is still unknown, sleep safety may be a factor and remains a significant public health concern. To ensure that your baby is getting a safe – and peaceful – night’s rest, follow these tips.
Choose a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets Canada safety regulations. Specifically designed with infants in mind, these sleeping units should have a firm mattress, all their hardware, and be no more than 10 years old.
Babies should only sleep in their crib or cradle. Any other surface, including adult beds, playpens or couches, can increase chances of suffocation. Swings and strollers also aren’t designed for long periods of sleep, since infants’ heads can roll forward and block their airways.
Share your room, but not your bed. Sharing your room may mean a lowered chance of SIDS, but your baby should sleep in their own bed. In Ontario, one study on unsafe sleep found that 65 per cent of infant deaths were linked to bed sharing. Although it may be difficult when you’re exhausted, always place your child back in their bassinet after breastfeeding. Otherwise, they’re at risk of suffocation, entrapment and overheating.
“Back is best.” According to Health Canada, SIDS has been linked to prone and lateral sleeping positions, which is why baby should always be placed on his or her back to sleep. However, once your baby can roll over on their own, there’s no need to keep them on their back. (The use of sleep positioners is not recommended.) During the daytime, make sure they get plenty of tummy time to prevent flat head.
Cribs should be empty. Apart from a fitted sheet, there should be nothing in your baby’s sleeping area that can cause suffocation or overheating, including pillows, blankets, sleep positioners or crib bumpers. At room temperature, baby should be fine with a one-piece sleeper, although you can use a light breathable cotton blanket if necessary.
Make sure potential hazards are well out of reach. As moms with toddlers know, placing your child down for a nap doesn’t mean that they’re actually sleeping! Make sure there are no hazards nearby, such as electrical outlets or cords that they can pull on. Tie up blind cords, which can be a strangulation hazard. Similarly, make sure both sides of the crib are securely locked before you put your child down to sleep.
Place your baby back in their crib after breastfeeding. The risk of SIDS can be lowered by breastfeeding, especially during a baby’s first six months. Breastfeeding in bed poses no risk, so long as you place your baby back to sleep in a crib, cradle or bassinet after the feeding.
Avoid overheating. A fitted one-piece is best for bedtime, and should feel comfortable for your baby at room temperature. If a blanket is needed, ensure it is thin, lightweight and breathable.
Say “no” to smoking. Tobacco smoke is one of the greatest risks for SIDS. In fact, many SIDS deaths can be prevented with a smoke-free pregnancy. Ensure your baby is far away from second-hand smoke as well.
While you can take steps to reduce the risk of SIDS, there are a number of childhood illnesses that are unpreventable. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re helpless if they do happen. Banking your baby’s cord blood and cord stem cells can help in the treatment of over 80 diseases including leukemia and lymphoma. Click here to learn more about cord blood banking.