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:
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:
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.
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.