-deprived parents of newborns will do just about anything for a little shuteye. Many parents may be tempted to bring their newborns into bed with them, but a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against the practice of co-sleeping.
Since 1992, the AAP has been educating parents on safe sleep practices with the “Back is Best” campaign in an effort to combat SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A new report this summer has updated the guidelines to reflect current safety protocols. It is now recommended that all infants under the age of one should sleep in their own crib or bassinet, on their backs, without soft toys, pillows, blankets or bedding.
“Infants under the age of four months have a much higher risk of death when co-sleeping,” said Vanessa Ladriyé, RMA, Health Educator for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. “An infant can share a room with a parent, but not the same sleep environment.”
“Your infant should always sleep alone on their back in an empty crib at every nap and every night,” Ladriyé said. “If the infant happens to fall asleep on an adult bed, the AAP recommends placing your infant in their own sleep environment, either a crib or bassinet, or a pack-and-play.”
Tips and Tricks
Ladriyé offered some tips for safe sleep:
- Keep it calm, and keep it dark: “ You can create a calm environment, free from loud noises, bright lights, television and computer lights.”
- White noise: “ Using a white noise machine for sleep is a great soothing device that can be placed in your infant’s room while sleeping.” Keep the noise under 50 decibels.
- Dress accordingly: “ It is recommended to dress your infant according to the room temperature of your home. You can dress your infant in layers or sleep sacks, but check for overheating (sweating, a hot chest, or flushed skin.).” Room temperature is recommended to be between 68-72 degrees.
- Consider a pacifier: “Pacifiers are recommended for infants to aid in sleep, but should be delayed if the infant is being breastfed until feeding is firmly established. If using a pacifier, it should not be attached using a string onto the baby’s clothing, or an attached stuffed animal pacifier to avoid strangulation and suffocation.”
- Stay close: “The AAP recommends room sharing up to the age of six months because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.”
Enlisting help from the pros
Parents who are yearning for a peaceful nighttime routine are increasingly turning to professionals for help. Certified pediatric sleep consultants can offer one-on-one help, coming to the home (or visiting via zoom) to assess the situation and offer solutions.
Lola Sanchez Liste, founder of Rockin’ Blinks, knows firsthand the struggles of the sleep-deprived mom.
“Being a mom was by far the hardest job ever,” she said. “ After having my first daughter, I felt very lost about motherhood, and sleep deprivation affected me greatly. I was going through postpartum anxiety, and it took me a long time to get someone to help me. I became passionate about sleep, healthy sleep habits and understanding babies’ natural sleep development. It was a journey to discover how important sleep was and how little parents know about it when they first have their baby.”
Sanchez Liste went on to become a certified sleep consultant, and now helps parents everywhere through her website, offering consultation services and products such as pima cotton sleepwear.
“Rockin’ Blinks was born with the idea that every sleep-related product should include basic tips to help families understand sleep and implement routines that help their children get better sleep,” she said. The website offers a line of footed pajamas and baby sleep bags in luxurious pima cotton that is soft, durable, hypoallergenic and free of harsh chemicals and flame retardants.
Sleep beyond the infant years
During the pandemic, Sanchez Liste saw many families who were struggling with sleep issues beyond the infant years which were brought on by stress. She believes that healthy sleep routines should be adjusted throughout a child’s life. She also notes that many cultures do practice “safe and practical” co-sleeping for children who are over one year old.
“Children change so much during the first years of life that it is hard to understand all the changes and adjust schedules and routines. We want to help parents so they don’t have to do it alone and struggle with where to find the information they need. At Rockin’ Blinks, we are committed to helping parents raise happy, healthy kids by providing easy access to essential sleep information for every stage, from newborn through the teen years. We believe healthy sleep is attainable for every family, and we’re here to offer support and sleep services to help families establish healthy sleep habits.”
For more advice on safe sleep practices and tools that work for you and your baby, visit Healthychildren.org (The American Academy of Pediatrics) and Rockinblinks.com.