As the weather starts getting chilly most parents think it’s important to bundle up their babies. In reality there’s a greater safety risk if your baby is too warm. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over heating is a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.)
As the CEO of First Candle I frequently speak to families about the safe sleep guidelines but there’s still a great deal of work to be done. 79% of the babies who die from SIDS and accidental suffocation are either in an adult bed or in their own sleep environment with a blanket, pillow, stuffed animal or other loose item. October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to educate parents, grandparents and caregivers how to keep their baby safe and comfortable.
Set the temperature – A good rule of thumb is to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. If the room is too cold for you, it is too cold for your baby. If it is too warm for you, it is too warm for your baby. The ideal temperature is between 68° - 72° F. To check if your baby’s too warm touch her belly or head, not her hands or feet. Other signs of overheating are sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash and rapid breathing.
Keep your baby’s sleep environment bare – While it appears to adults that a bare crib is “cold” and not cozy, in reality this is something we’ve been conditioned to believe through advertising. The only safe sleep environment for a baby is with nothing in their surroundings – no pillows, blankets, fluffy bumpers or stuffed animals. Instead swaddle your baby and then transition to a wearable blanket.
Firm and flat is important – Many people think the only reason for not co-sleeping is because of the risk of overlay. This is only one concern. Pillow top, memory foam and extra soft mattresses are all dangerous. A baby should only sleep on a firm and flat mattress. To check that it’s sufficiently firm, place your hand down on it. If it leaves an indentation it’s too soft. It’s also not safe to allow a baby to sleep in an inclined sleeper, carrier or car seat. Baby’s head can fall forward and restrict her airway.
Keep it layered in the car as well – Not only is it a SIDS risk to have baby over-bundled or wearing a bulky snow suit in her car seat but it prevents the shoulder straps from fitting properly. Secure baby in her car seat and then place a blanket over her.
Share these tips with everyone who watches your baby especially grandparents and babysitters. Room share, not bed share and keep it bare.
For more tips click here.
About the Author:
Alison Jacobson – Executive Director/CEO
Alison Jacobson has been involved with First Candle for over 17 years following the loss of her first son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1997. For six years she served on the Board of Directors and continued to play a role as spokesperson and consultant. Alison assumed the role of Executive Director/ CEO in 2016 and is responsible for all aspects of the organization's strategy, vision and operations. She has since guided First Candle towards a renewed focus on community partnerships and coalition building. This has led to the development of their main initiative, Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep.
Alison is a sought-after speaker and media guest on overcoming grief after loss as well as child safety issues. Prior to her role in the child safety area, she was SVP at Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s largest PR firms, where she led business development initiatives for Fortune 500 companies and developed rebranding campaigns and launch programs for numerous consumer brands. She is the mom of four children, step-mom to another two and caregiver for her husband with Multiple Sclerosis and son with intellectual disabilities.
If you’re reading this in the early morning while trying to rock your baby back to sleep, then parents: we stand with you. We’ve all been there, trying to figure out when our restless munchkins will let us catch a few more Z’s. While you can’t predict the exact timing of when your baby’s schedule will normalize, it can be helpful to get a sense of how long most babies sleep, why they wake up, and how to help them.