How have you and your family been sleeping? If you didn’t know, March 1st is Baby Sleep Day and March 14-20 is National Sleep Awareness Week. As a registered nurse and a mom of a three-month-old, toddler and preschooler, I am all about this!
I am not only passionate about baby sleep safety, but I am also on a quest to try and get better rest myself. So, in honor of Baby Sleep Day and National Sleep Awareness Week, I did a little research and want to share with you some tips I’ve found for helping babies sleep safely and for helping tired parents get better rest.
We’ve come a long way in keeping our babies safe while they sleep in the U.S., but sadly there are still about 3,500 sleep-related deaths among babies in the U.S. each year. I’d like to see that number go down to zero, and sharing the safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and CDC with you is the perfect place to start working toward that goal.
Here are some simple ways caregivers can help create a safe sleep area for babies.
- Remember back is best. Lay your baby on his or her back to sleep every time.
- Always put baby to sleep on a firm, flat sleep surface such as an approved baby mattress in an approved crib or bassinet.
- Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of your baby’s sleep area. Use only a fitted sheet on baby’s mattress. CDC research found that soft bedding, such as blankets and pillows were the main cause of infant suffocation deaths during sleep
- Be in the room with baby. Keep baby’s bassinet or crib in the same room where you sleep until your baby is at least 6 months old, and ideally until your baby is 12 months old.
- Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. If you’re worried about your baby getting cold, dress them in sleep clothing, like a wearable blanket.
These simple guidelines are super easy to follow and very effective. They’ve been shown reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS.
Now that we’ve covered baby, what about you? Sleep has a major impact on our wellness, but it can be so hard to come by, especially with a new baby in the house. Here are a few tips for tired caregivers to get better rest, some from my personal experience and some from Johns Hopkins sleep specialist Grace W. Pien, M.D., M.S.C.E.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This means trying to get a nap in during the day when baby naps and not just resting at night.
- Skip the chores. Prioritize your sleep over things like vacuuming. Let it go and put your health first.
- Placing baby’s crib or bassinet by your bed so it easier to tend to the baby and then go back to sleep.
- Share nighttime baby duties. Moms who breastfeed can pump breast milk so their partner or another trusted caregiver can give a bottle to the baby so mom rests.
- Sharing a room with the baby is OK, but do not share the bed even if you are breastfeeding. Next to bumpers, suffocating in bed with Mom while she falls asleep is a primary cause of sleep-related deaths.
- Ask for help. Friends and family members may be able to help at night with diaper changes and feedings, or by taking work off your plate during the day like household chores and errand running.
- Avoid or limit caffeine near bedtime. Set a cut off time and stick to it.
- Avoid electronics use before bed and in bed.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Make your sleep environment look relaxing and inviting. Keep your bedroom clean. Consider painting the walls a soothing color. Use blankets that feel good to touch in a style or color that makes you feel happy or relaxed.
- Invest in blackout blinds or other window coverings to manage light well.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
- Wear comfortable pajamas.
- Utilize white noise to block out sounds that might awaken you.
- Consider using soothing scents or essential oils like lavender to help you relax.
I hope these tips help you and your family to get safer, better rest. For more resources, Community Care Plan has put together a great page for parents: http://gofyi.ly/C42144C6
What tips do you have for getting a good night’s sleep? I’d love to hear them.
Community Care Plan. (2021). Helping babies sleep safely. CCPCares. https://ccpcares.org/CDC/BabySleep
Pien, Grace W. (2021). New parents: tips for quality rest. Hopkins Medicine. The John’s Hopkins University. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/new-parents-tips-for-quality-rest
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