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Safe Sleeping for Infants: The ABC’s of the ZZZs

Safe SleepSafe sleeping and sleeping preferences continue to be popular topic among moms. And, in January of this year it was reported that an alarming number of seven infant deaths occurred Washoe County due to unsafe sleeping conditions. To get some answers, we talked to Bre Taylor, Director of Maternal and Child Services (and mother-to-be!) at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. Bre and her team at Saint Mary’s work with new and expectant moms to help them prepare for childbirth, provide care during and post-delivery and educate families about caring for their newest additions in the safest and healthiest way possible.

First and foremost, what is the safest position a baby should be sleeping?

Taylor: We emphasize the term “Back to Sleep,” this helps trigger parents to remember that their infant should be placed on their backs when sleeping. Why you ask? When a baby sleeps on their back, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and unintentional suffocation is significantly reduced.

What should parents consider when getting a crib and crib accessories?

Taylor: This is extremely important. Your child’s crib should really be quite bare. While stuffed animals, bumpers and the cute blankets and quilts might have an aesthetic purpose, those soft items are all hazards to your baby’s airways during sleep. A firm mattress covered with a snug-fitting crib sheet is all that should be in your crib. Also, avoid hanging anything above the baby’s crib and place it away from windows, drapes and wall mounted décor. If you’re worried about your child keeping warm, I recommend a wearable sleep sack.

When selecting your crib, ensure that your crib meets the most current safety standards. The Cribs for Kids program has great information on what a safe sleep environment should look like and The Consumer Products Safety Commission offers exceptional resources regarding safe products and recall information. Crib slats should be close together (smaller than a soda can) and void of design cutouts, tall corner posts, and adjustable sides.

How often should our babies sleep in their crib?

Taylor: Ideally your baby should be sleeping in their crib as much as possible, during naptime and bedtime. Sometimes they will adorably fall asleep on your chest, sofas, baby swings, etc. when this happens, cherish it briefly…but return them to a safe sleep environment promptly.

We see a lot of moms and articles praising “co-sleeping” with their children as a way to bond, how can moms bond safely?

Taylor: I hear this question often, and want to emphasize that there are a multitude of ways to bond with your infant that do not involve sharing a bed. When it comes to sleeping, we recommend room-sharing- which is simply putting your baby’s crib in the same room as yours. Throughout the night, your baby will give you signals and cues and you will be nearby to react. Additionally, breastfeeding, tummy time, and reading to your baby are all positive and safe bonding exercises.

At Saint Mary’s, every mom is given the book “Sleep Baby Safe and Snug” it’s a bedtime story that thoughtfully and clearly outlines the safest way for infants to go to sleep.

Any final advice for parents when it comes to infant safety?

Taylor: First off, as a new or expectant mom, there is SO MUCH information to digest and moments to prepare for your new life. However, learning infant CPR can be an invaluable tool and provide peace of mind to you and your family. Secondly, don’t be afraid to use your resources. There’s no such thing as a dumb or unwelcome questions when it comes to the safety of your child. Whether it’s your nurses, your physician, or local services in the area- there is a well-connected support system with a wealth of information to help.


BreTaylorBre Taylor, RN is the Director of Maternal and Child Services at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

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