Mindful Care and Soothing Support: Tips for Creating a Safe Sleep Space for Your Infant
A comfortable sleep environment is essential for good health, regardless of age. That means maintaining a dark, cool, and soothing atmosphere which makes it easy to fall asleep. Many of the same factors that impact adults come into play for infants, who depend on a sleep space that’s safe, sanitary, and comfortable. Like adults, little ones need a supportive mattress and bedding material that prevents injury and suffocation and reduces the likelihood that a breathing problem might develop. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips to create a safe and soothing sleep environment:
Elements of a Safe Sleep Environment
Babies should sleep only on a firm surface, such as an approved crib or bassinet mattress with a fitted sheet specifically designed for that surface. Be aware that the mattress should not indent when your child is lying on it. If you decide to get a new mattress, consider recycling the old one. 80 percent of the old mattress can be recycled and reused.
On cold nights avoid covering your little one with a loose blanket or covering sheet as this could cause choking or suffocation. Instead, dress an infant in a sleeper that’s conducive to sleep based on room temperature. If you swaddle your child, take care that it isn’t too difficult for her to breathe or move and always be sure she remains on her back. Stuffed animals, quilts, crib bumpers, and other soft objects that make for a decorative crib area can also cause suffocation, so be sure to remove these items from the crib before sleep time.
If you like to rock your child to sleep in a recliner or in a soft chair, never lay her on that surface but return her safely to her crib or bassinet. If you prefer to hold your baby while she falls asleep, take care not to fall asleep to avoid rolling over on her, and never sleep with your child in the same bed.
Suffocation can result when an infant is unable to breathe due to an object, such as a pillow, sheet, or blanket blocking her breathing passage and increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). As you shop for a quality crib, be aware that new safety regulations require that cribs have stronger slats and mattress supports, and higher-quality hardware.
Like many adults, babies need a consistent bedtime routine to help them get to sleep. Incorporate several pre-bedtime activities, such as a gentle leg massage, to help her feel sleepy. Studies have shown that babies fall asleep 30 percent faster when they are accustomed to some kind of regular bedtime routine. Talk softly to your child in a soothing voice and lay her down in the crib when she shows signs of becoming sleepy. Consider playing soft music or keep a ticking clock nearby if your child is having trouble winding down and getting to sleep. Or try introducing a white noise for baby sleep.
Sudden infant death syndrome is a source of terror for new parents. Fortunately, there are a number of easy preventive measures that can help keep your fears at bay, including making sure no one smokes near your child and keeping her sleep environment well-ventilated. Carefully regulate your baby’s room temperature so she doesn’t become overheated, and stay up-to-date on all well-baby visits and immunizations.
Remember that an infant should always sleep on a crib mattress that doesn’t leave an indentation. Keep anything that could cause suffocation out of your child’s sleeping area, and recycle an old mattress and bedding material rather than sending it to the landfill.