The first time you leave your baby with a babysitter can be extremely stressful. While you’re out, chances are you’ll be preoccupied and wondering if your baby is safe and happy. Even if it’s your own mom, that first separation can be tough.
You’ve probably left a long list of emergency phone numbers, feeding times, bath times and nap times, but something might still be missing: While you might be aware of the Safe Sleep Guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, your babysitter might not. And, since the Guidelines have changed since you were a baby, Grandma might not know, either.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is still the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age but over the past 10 years there has also been a dramatic increase (115% in the past decade) of other sleep-related infant deaths, such as accidental suffocation.
These other sleep-related deaths can be prevented by following updated AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines, which include:
- Placing your baby in a crib, bassinet, play yard or other area that has a firm surface with only a tight-fitting sheet.
- Putting nothing else in the baby’s sleep environment: no pillows, blankets, stuffed animals or loose items.
It may be tempting for a babysitter or Grandma to hold your baby the entire time you’re gone, to not wake him or her up, but this isn’t safe. It’s also tempting to have your baby sleep next to them on the couch, to be watched. Again, not safe, since it’s not a firm surface. Every time your baby sleeps she should be in her own sleep area.
Grandma might also feel the crib looks “empty” or “cold” and she’ll make it cozy by snuggling in a blanket or a stuffed animal. It’s critical to explain to her that keeping the crib completely bare is necessary, to eliminate the chance of accidental suffocation. As a first-time mom it can be difficult to get your mother to listen to you - but stay firm in your instructions.
So, when creating your babysitter check list include:
- My baby must always be placed in her crib to sleep – not her stroller, swing or even in your arms.
- Do not place a blanket, lovie, stuffed animal, pillow or anything else in the crib with her.
- It is OK, however, for her to have a pacifier. Pacifier use, once breastfeeding is established, has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- If she falls asleep in your arms immediately move her to her crib.
For additional information and to learn more about the Safe Sleep Guidelines visit First Candle’s site.
Alison Jacobson is the Executive Director/CEO of First Candle. First Candle is the national non-profit committed to ending Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths through education and outreach while supporting those families who have tragically lost a baby.