Putting an Infant down to Sleep in Comfort and Safety

When laying an infant down to sleep it is important to prepare the child’s crib or bassinet to ensure that the infant not only has a comfortable surface to sleep on, but that the baby is protected and safe. An infant will get more rest and have less of a risk of succumbing to Sudden Infant Syndrome (SIDS). Margaret Renkl, in the September, 2008 issue of Parenting Magazine, acknowledged that although the number of SIDS cases have dropped in recent years, SIDS remains a serious threat, especially for those newborns between the ages of two and four months. Research, interviews with various medical professionals, and parents who lost infants to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have resulted in the development of some basic guidelines for putting an infant down to sleep in a manner that will help decrease the odds of a baby succumbing to SIDS while ensuring the child will sleep peacefully and deeply.

Infants should be put to sleep on their backs for both naps and overnight. There are sleep aids available to prevent a baby from turning over on their side or stomach while sleeping. Infants should be put to sleep in their own bed, which should be in the parent’s room if possible, until the infant is at least four months old. If space is not available in the parent’s bedroom, a baby monitor be purchased which will sound off an alarm if an infant stops breathing or wakes up. Baby monitors are also ideal for use in childcare centers or childcare homes where there may be other toddlers or preschool age children playing and making noise so that staff can hear when a baby wakes up or if they are in distress.

An infant will sleep more comfortably if they do not get too warm. A baby should be dressed in light sleepwear and the thermostat in the house or the infant’s room should only be set at sixty-eight to seventy-five degrees. Many parents have napped with their infant in the same bed. This is not only a safety risk for the child; the infant would not sleep as peacefully.

Parents, child care providers, and all other care givers should make sure that the crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper that the baby will be sleeping in has been certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers. The seal of certification will be clearly labeled and displayed prominently on the crib itself or the shipping carton. The mattress should be firm with a tight fitting sheet. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, only cribs made after 1991 are likely to meet all current safety standards. The slats on baby beds should measure no more than 2 3/8 inches apart.

A well rested infant will usually wake refreshed and less fussy if they have been laid down to sleep in the right way.