Safest infant sleep position

Parents want to ensure that their new baby is safe, secure and happy at all times, as well as ensuring that baby will sleep well. Knowing how to position a newborn to sleep can be a worry for some parents. Over the years medical advice has changed, currently the safest position for infants to sleep is on their back.

The back to sleep campaign has significantly reduced the amount of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) cases in the U.S.A. It is advised that an infant should be put to sleep on their back for the first year of life, after this time they are able to move around so they will find a position they feel comfortable in.

SIDS is where a newborn unexpectedly stops breathing. The exact reason for this is unknown. It may be a lack of oxygen, or unhealthy oxygen that an infant is breathing. If their face is close to their blanket or mattress they could be breathing the same air back in, which results in them getting less oxygen. A newborn doesn’t have enough control over their neck muscles to be able to free their face if anything gets in the way to block their airway.

The safest sleeping position for a newborn is on their back in the “feet-to-foot” position, meaning that their feet are at the bottom of the crib. This is to prevent baby from wriggling down into their bedding. Once they become mobile, continue to lay them on their back to sleep for the first year. Other ways to ensure an infant is safe for sleep include having a safe crib. The mattress should be firm, and should fit the crib perfectly with no spaces around the sides.

It is advisable not to use any sleeping props, as these could be a hazard. Soft toys, as cute as they might be, should be kept out of the crib also. In fact, nothing else should be in the crib with a newborn. Even crib bumpers are not needed, as these are often forgotten about, and once baby becomes mobile at around six months they may pull at the crib bumper, and as they move about they may end up sleeping with their face against the bumper.

How baby is dressed for sleep is important, too. They should be dressed in appropriate clothing such as an all-in-one outfit. Loose bedding should be avoided, as they may get tangled up in it or wriggle down under the covers. If using blankets, these should be designed for newborns. Blankets should be tucked into the bottom and sides of the crib, ensuring that they are no higher than the chest, and their arms should be kept free.

A newborn is usually swaddled, or alternatively an even safer option is to invest in some wearable baby sleeping bags (Grobags) which are worn over an infant’s clothes. Grobags are designed to keep an infant at a constant temperature, as the air regulates in the bag. These are becoming quite popular with new parents, as they are easier to use, and there’s no worry of baby getting trapped under their blankets.

It is important that a newborn is kept at a safe temperature. It is advisable to have a room thermometer to keep a check on the temperature of the room. If baby overheats it can be dangerous, so it is better if they are a little cooler. The best way to check a baby’s body temperature is by placing the back of your hand on their stomach or neck to get a more accurate idea of their temperature, it is perfectly normal for them to have cold hands. The crib should not be placed next to any heat sources, and it should be kept out of drafts.

A healthy infant should always be placed on their back to sleep. Once your infant is old enough, he or she can be placed on their tummy to play. Tummy time should be introduced once your baby has control over his or her neck muscles. Once your infant becomes mobile, he or she will move around in the crib and find a position that they feel comfortable in. The crib should still be kept safe and empty during infancy, so always take out any soft toys before putting your infant down to sleep.