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Protecting Your Sleeping Infant

Heather Shafi, MD, Pediatric Resident
Topics: The Developing Child, Infant 01.08.15

The first few weeks with a newborn baby in the house can be very hectic: regular feedings, lack of sleep, and of course, a new baby who needs you 24/7!

With that in mind, let's review some of the important points that your doctor probably mentioned during your hospital day following the birth of your baby.

  1. Sleep cycle: It is typical for your child to initially want to sleep during the day and wake up more at night. Keep trying to keep your child up more during the day so she can learn to be on your sleep cycle. This should improve in the first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to take naps while your baby sleeps. Remember to sleep when you can to keep up your strength.
  2. Back to Sleep: In order to help prevent Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, commonly known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics says that babies should be put to sleep on their back until they are 1 year old. It is not safe for a baby to sleep on her stomach or side unsupervised due to the risk of suffocation and of breathing in his own expired air. Many people worry that a baby on her back will choke if she spits up, but in fact, babies turn their heads to the side and spit out when lying on their back. The risk of SIDS is greatest at 3-4 months of age, but Sudden Unexplained Infant Death, or SIDS, can happen anytime in the first year of life. Do not sleep in bed with your baby! There is a risk of rolling onto the baby, and of the baby falling off the bed.

Here is a list of things you can do to help prevent SIDS:

  • Always place the baby on her back to sleep until she is 1.
  • Place your baby on a firm surface to sleep, without any pillows, soft blankets, or stuffed animals
  • Have your baby in your room to sleep, but not in your bed. She should sleep in her own space.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended and is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.
  • Have your baby immunized routinely. Evidence suggests this can reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Avoid overheating
  • Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, alcohol and illegal drugs

Ada Fenick, MD, FAAP
Erin Nozetz, MD, FAAP