After months of waiting, you have finally welcomed your child into the world. Your main priority now is to keep your little miracle safe. Hopefully, your baby will spend a lot of time sleeping, so it is important to prepare a safe sleep area and correct potential hazards. Take a few minutes to evaluate your infant’s sleep plan with these tips in mind:
Infant sleep safety
Crib and bed safety is important to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death of an infant under the age of 12 months. It usually occurs while a baby is sleeping in a crib, which is why it also is known as crib death. While the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, researchers suggest these ways to help prevent babies from dying while in their cribs:
• Avoid co-sleeping with your infant. Instead, place the crib or bassinet in your room for the first six months. The risk of SIDS increases when a baby sleeps in the same bed as parents, siblings and pets. The baby could suffocate if parents roll over in their sleep and cover the baby’s nose and mouth.
• Place your baby to sleep on his or her back until 1 year old.
• Do not use blankets, bumpers, pillows, or stuffed animals.
• Choose a firm, authentic baby crib mattress.
Moving to their own space
The transition to their own bedroom leads to other safety considerations, such as:
• Adjust the crib level so that your child cannot climb over the rail and fall. If the crib level cannot be adjusted to ensure safety, it is likely time to move to a “big-kid” bed.
• Use a nightlight in child’s bedroom, the bathroom, and hallways.
• Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside the nursery and hallway outside the room.
• Anchor heavy furniture, such as dressers and bookshelves, to the wall to prevent them from falling on children who like to climb.
• Cover electrical outlets.
• Keep all cords out of reach, as they can be a strangulation hazard.
• Consider window guards or stops. Screens will not prevent falls.
• Proper supervision is key.
Safety outside the nursery
While it is important to keep furniture inside the nursery safe for infants, you also should pay attention to other furniture in your home. Specifically, you should:
• Not leave a baby unattended on furniture.
• Place bassinets or car seats on the floor rather than on tables, counters, beds, or other furniture.
• Place bumpers or guards on sharp corners of furniture.
• Anchor heavy furniture.
• Cover all electrical outlets.
• Eliminate access to cords.
Planning ahead and making a few changes can help keep your baby safe from harm. These changes may seem small, but they can protect your child from injuries or death.
Jeremy Forster, M.D., is a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie. He cares for patients under 18, monitoring their physical, emotional, social, and psychological development. Mayo Clinic Health System is a community partner of Chippewa Valley Family.