Safe Sleeping For Babies

By Jenna Armstrong

January 7, 2019

My name is Jenna and I am am The Mama Coach in Winnipeg, MB. I am a Registered Nurse, lactation counselor, sleep coach, prenatal educator, CPR instructor, and a mom of 3 little ones! I am here to help!

Sleep like a baby!

In the first few weeks of life, babies sleep for about 16 hours out of the day!  Their awake times are short, usually 45-60 minutes. And their stomach capacity is small, so they need frequent feeds…8-12 feeds per day.  

With this said, much of the early days with your baby is spent with them either sleeping or eating. Planning where your baby can sleep safely is important.  

The sleep environment

Always place your baby on a firm flat surface for sleep.  The “Safe to Sleep” campaign (formally known as the “Back to sleep” campaign) was launched by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 1994 to draw attention to the importance of babies sleeping on their backs as a way to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  

The best location for a baby to sleep would be in a bassinet in your room.  The Canadian Pediatrics Society recommends to room share with your little one until 6 months of age.  

Parents are cautioned about co sleeping with their babies, as adult mattress are typically softer and adult beds usually have blankets and pillows that can increase the baby’s risk for accidental suffocation.

Room temperature should be kept a little on the cooler side, 22 degrees Celsius is ideal.  Babies hands and feet may feel cool to touch, but their core should be warm. Feeling their tummy and back is the best place to check for temperature as the hands and feet are often cooler and not a good predictor of actual temperature.  An easy rule of thumb is, dress them like you! The key is the importance to not let your baby get overheated.

A lovie is safe for a baby once they are able to roll.  Just be careful that they are baby friendly, such as no loose or small parts.  Also, be mindful of it only being one small lovie. A crib full of lovies, blankets, pillows, bumper pads are not recommended for a safe sleep environment.

White noise can be a great took for sleep as long as it is used safely.  A white noise machine needs to be a safe distance from the little one, at least 100 cm’s and no louder then 50 decibels for sound.

Swaddling

Swaddling is safe for newborns up until they are able to roll, so up until 2 months per Canadian guidelines.  With this being said, swaddling is only safe if done properly. Make sure the swaddle is firm on baby but not to tight, make sure chest and hips have room to expand, doesn’t cover the face, made from lightweight material, and use caution not to overdress underneath.

Soothers

Soothers are also considered to be safe for newborn sleep.  Research shows soothers can decrease the risk for SIDS as they keep the baby sucking and therefore in the light phases of sleep.  Also, the sucking motion keeps their tongue forward keeping the airway open.

Safe sleep on the go

Naps on the go are perfect for little ones because they nap a lot!  We’ve all been there, the beauty of the bucket seat…pop it out and transfer the sleeping baby.  Just remember, a baby sleeping in a car seat needs to be supervised as it is not a firm flat surface.  The seated position can be dangerous for babies under 6 months because they have heavier heads, their heads can fall forwards causing difficulty breathing.  The angle is better in the car attached in the base or in a stroller with an adapter then in the house on the floor.

As a mom I get it, new parent sleep deprivation is real and sometimes you get desperate to get your little one sleep!  But as a nurse, following these safe sleep guidelines is what I recommend. New parents are often overwhelmed with information, endless do and don’t lists, and scary safety warnings.  If you need help finding your little one’s safe sleep please reach out, any of us Mama Coaches would be happy to help!

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