Besides the above crib safety precautions, to increase your baby’s chances of a safe night’s sleep, observe these do’s and don’ts:
- Place baby to sleep on her back or side, whichever way she seems to sleep the best.
- Spread sheets and under sheets smoothly and tuck them in tightly beneath the mattress. This lessens the chance of wrinkles in the bedding that could obstruct baby’s breathing.
- Be particularly vigilant when traveling , since baby will be sleeping in an unfamiliar and potentially unsafe environment. Bring along a portable crib or a roll-out safe-sleeping mat. These are safer sleeping alternatives than soft adult mattresses, such as the ones used on sofa beds or rollaways in motels. If you are using a hotel-provided crib, do a safety check.
- Be equally vigilant when putting baby to sleep in a carriage . Observe the same precautions. Place infant to sleep on back or side, and remove any potentially dangerous objects from the carriage.
- Keep baby’s environment as fuzz-free as possible, especially if your baby is prone to respiratory allergies. Besides removing stuffed animals, avoid bedding that is likely to collect lint, such as deep-pile lambskin or fuzzy wool blankets. Hypoallergenic mattresses and mattress covers are available for allergy-prone infants.
- Don’t put infants under six months to sleep on their tummies, unless there is a doctor-recommended reason for doing so.
- Don’t put baby to bed on a soft surface, such as a waterbed, beanbag, adult foam mat, or any other squishy surface that could obstruct baby’s breathing passages.
- Don’t leave baby sleeping alone unsupervised in a carriage. An older child may caringly, but unsafely, want to snuggle a teddy bear next to baby’s head. Carriage mattresses tend to be less cared for than other bedding, and they tend to collect dust and other allergens. Clean them as needed. Carriages are a common site of smothering in babies, second only to cribs.
- Don’t use deep-pile lambskin or other deep-pile (greater than 1¼ inches or 3 centimeters) sleeping mats. These not only collect dust and other allergens, but also can obstruct baby’s breathing passages, especially if they get wet from drool or spit-up.
- Don’t cover baby’s head after the first day or two. This is a baby’s primary path of normal heat loss. Covering the head risks overheating the baby, which increases the risk of SIDS. (Very premature hospitalized babies often need their head covered to maintain their body temperature, but the medical staff monitors this.)
- Never smoke in the room where the baby sleeps. Smoke irritates baby’s sensitive breathing passages.