Sleep Safety for Children

Sleep Safety for Children

by | Oct 23, 2020 | Safety | 0 comments


Aloha everyone!


We hope you’re looking forward to the weekend 🙂 We’ll be taking a break from nutrition and focusing on something that we advocate for every day: safe sleep! You may have heard other providers talk about back to sleep or safe to sleep. These are phrases we use to help infants sleep in a way that may prevent unwanted risks and consequences.

Why is sleep safety for children important?

Safe sleep helps reduce the risk of something called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death (i.e. suffocation or strangulation). What is SIDS? SIDS is a sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than 1 year of age and is the leading cause of infant death for infants 1 month of age through 1 year. In the US, there are about 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths annually. Very unfortunate, but thankfully, medicine has made significant improvements over the decades by promoting safe sleep practices!

Unfortunately, the specific cause of death during these sleep episodes is usually unknown…Now, I know this sounds super depressing, and I’m sorry we started off with such a Debbie Downer, BUT we want to make sure we educate you about something we take very seriously, and we know it’ll make a difference.

What behaviors increase the risk of SIDS?

  • Infants that sleep on their stomachs
  • Sleeping on soft material such as bed mattresses
  • Co-sleeping
  • Sleeping with pillows, extra blankets, or stuffed animals
  • Smoking

What are ways I can promote safe sleep?

I’m glad you asked!

  • Back to sleep! Place your child on their back whenever they go to sleep. This includes naps and at night.
    • What about those of us who are stomach sleepers?!
      • Keep in mind that these recommendations are for infants up to their first year of life. So, any child less than 1 year old should follow back to sleep guidelines. After that, if they end up being a stomach sleeper, they can.
  • Only your baby should be in their crib.
  • Avoid loose materials, stuffed animals, and pillows in your infant’s sleep area. Don’t use crib bumpers.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid over-bundling

For those of us who are more visual learners, the CDC has a great illustration that promotes safe sleep practices. Check it out!

What are some other examples of a safe sleep environment?

Again, kudos to the CDC for providing additional visuals.

Notice that the open crib and bassinet don’t not have any additional linens or stuffed animals. Both infants are sleeping on their backs. Another key point is that the mother on the right placed her baby right next to her bed. This allows you to still feel like you’re right next to your baby, gives you easy access to your baby, and makes sure your baby is in the safest environment. WIN, WIN, WIN.



Sleep Safety for Children FAQs


We know there are MANY other questions regarding safe sleep. Here’s a Q&A discussing common questions we receive from parents.

Q: What if my baby rolls over while sleeping?

A: This is okay. As babies develop, they learn how to roll over. That’s expected. You don’t have to wake them up to turn them back over. A sleep environment is the priority.

Q: Can my baby use a pacifier during sleep?

A: Yes, your baby can! Pacifier use has been shown to help decrease SIDS. If your baby is a newborn, we recommend waiting a couple of weeks after you start breastfeeding before introducing the pacifier.

Q: Should I use a breathing monitor while my baby is sleeping?

A: No. The evidence has not shown that this using a breathing or vital signs monitor outside of a hospital environment is effective at all.

Q: Is it okay if my baby is swaddled while sleeping?

A: Yes. This is totally okay! We recommend discontinuing the swaddle after babies start consistently rolling over. If you’re afraid they’re cold, you can use long footed pajamas or sleep sack instead.

Q: Does putting my baby on her back increase her risk of choking?

A: It may seem that would be the case, but actually the risk of choking is not increased! Infants have developed their own reflex so that if anything (like reflux) reaches the top of their esophagus, they instinctively protect their airway. The sound they make while doing this sounds like choking.

We hope this information was helpful! If there are any other questions related to safe sleep, don’t ever hesitate to ask!