Baby Sleep Tips: How To Keep Your Baby Safe Through the Night
Little Yawn Collective - Sep 29, 2021
For every parent who says their perfect little angel slept like a champ from sun-up to sun-down since coming home from the hospital, there's one at the supermarket who is so indisputably tired, they didn't realize their shirt was covered in old baby spit-up.
To the sleepless parents looking for ways to help your restless baby sleep—you're not alone. The baby beddy-bye battle is the bane of every new parent's life.
For most, sleepless nights are a rite of passage—but don't worry.
The Little Yawn Collective is here to the rescue! Read on as we explore some of the best tips and tricks to help keep your little buddy safe and sound through the night.
Sweet dreams ahead.
How Do I Make Sure My Baby Is Safe Overnight?
First things first, safety.
That being said, while it's not crystal-clear what causes this devastating phenomenon, there are things you can do to lower your baby's risk.
Share a Room
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), having your little one sleep in your room (in their own bed) for at least the first six months of their life can help lower their risk of potential dangers by around 50 percent.
Plus, it will make that nighttime feed or midnight diaper change much easier.
Always Use a Bassinet or Crib
No matter whether you decide to use a bassinet or a crib, it's important to make sure your little one’s bed meets the most recent safety standards. The mattress should be firm, flat, and bare. Stuffed animals, loose bedding, blankets, pillows, and other soft objects can create a potential hazard, especially in your baby’s first year.
If your sleepy angel dozes off to dreamland anywhere other than their bassinet or crib, gently scoop them up and move them to the correct sleeping environment.
How Do I Pick a Bassinet?
If you've decided to let your little buddy sleep in a bassinet for the first few months of life, you need to know what you should look for to keep them safe and cozy during every sleep.
Most bassinets have a weight limit that can accommodate up to 20 pounds. Some may hold chunkier babies but keep in mind that weight isn't the only way little ones can outgrow their bassinets. In many cases, babies will be too "big" for the bassinet developmentally well before reaching the weight limit.
So, when you place your sweetie pie down to sleep, always check to make sure they don't look cramped. If their itty-bitty legs touch the sidewall when they kick, it's time for an upgrade.
Age and Wear
Hand-me-downs from friends are great! After all, a brand new bassinet from the baby boutique can come with a pretty hefty price tag. But according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), old bassinets and cribs pose several dangers to babies and may not meet current safety standards.
If your only option is a secondhand bassinet, just check it thoroughly before using it. Check for recalls, make sure it's sturdy, ensure that all the original parts are there, and pay close attention to how the mattress sits on the supports to ensure it doesn't sag in the middle.
Your precious angel's bassinet should have a wide, well-supported, stable base so it won't tip over or collapse. There should be no sharp edges or points on the inside or outside and no small parts that could be a choking hazard.
How Do I Pick a Crib?
Your little buddy is going to spend a huge chunk of their early life in a crib, so make sure you invest in one that's built to last, and of course, safe.
All baby cribs that were manufactured following 2011 must meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards; one of those requirements is that the manufacture date must be printed somewhere on the crib so you can check.
That being said, avoid using any cribs manufactured before 2011 to ensure safety during newborn sleep. Here are a few more tips to keep your tiny tot safe and sound in their new crib.
The mattress should fit the crib snugly—less than two fingers should fit between the mattress and sides of the crib. This is crucial to prevent your baby's head from getting stuck, which may cause difficulty breathing.
The crib bars or slats should be no more than 2 ⅜ inches wide (about the width of a soda can) to prevent sneaky babies from slipping through.
The top of the crib rail should be at least 26 inches from the top of the mattress, and the corner posts should line up flush with the top of the headboard or be much taller—more than 16 inches.
Although they can add a pop of style, it's best to avoid fancy cutouts in the crib's headboard or footboard to keep your little one's head from accidentally getting trapped.
How Should My Baby Sleep?
There are few things as gratifying and heartwarming as watching your most precious treasure sleeping peacefully, lost in their own little world of dreams with not a single care or worry in the world. Parents, however, have quite a few worries.
According to AAP recommendations, you can reduce your snoozy angel's risk by following these tips below.
On Their Back
Ah, the infamous battle between tummy time and back sleeping. While it is true that babies are the happiest when sleeping on their stomachs, it's not the safest when it comes to healthy sleeping habits.
Until your little buddy's first birthday, you should always place them to sleep on their back.
Cute baby things like stuffed animals and plush toys are just that—cute. Safety, however, is way more important. Keep the sleeping space free and clear of everything except the cutest thing in the room—your baby.
This means no stuffed animals, blankets, and absolutely no bumper pads in the crib. A fitted sheet is all your tiny tot needs on their mattress, as anything else is a suffocation hazard.
At Room Temperature
You know how you always tend to sleep better when the temperature is juuuust right? Well, your little buddy is no different. For sweet dreams and a safe snooze, the AAP recommends keeping the temperature in your baby's nursery between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of potential dangers.
Are There Other Tips and Tricks I Should Know?
When it comes to the safety of our little ones, there's really no need to reinvent the parenting wheel. A countless number of parents before you have successfully helped their tiny sprouts blossom into healthy kiddos.
From copious amounts of research focused on infant safety to an ever-growing amount of seasoned parents sharing their "trade secrets" through books and blog posts, it goes without saying that the tips and tricks these days are endless.
Here are a few more things you should know.
Beware of Smart Baby Monitors
There's nothing more gut-churning than the thought that your little one's nursery isn't completely safe from intruders. But the unfortunate truth is, if you have a smart baby monitor in your baby's sleeping space, it is important to take the right precautions.
With that in mind, if you're looking for a baby monitor, stick with one that doesn't connect to the internet. Or simply turn off the Wi-Fi function on the device. This will prevent anyone from hacking the baby monitor and spying on your most precious treasure.
Know When To Swaddle
Swaddling is an ancient technique for wrapping infants in a thin blanket or cloth. While it's undeniably adorable (who doesn't love a little baby burrito!), the all-hailed method also serves the essential purpose of helping your baby stay calm and sleep more soundly, which can support your baby’s sleep schedule.
It's an excellent smart sleep strategy for newborns, but once your baby reaches the point of trying to roll or kick free of their swaddle blanket, it's time to move on. Why? Because a swaddled baby that rolls onto their belly can't use their arms to roll back over.
Don’t Forget the Pacifier
While the exact reason is a bit fuzzy, recent studies found that the use of a pacifier during sleep reduced the risk of potential harm by 90 percent. Experts theorize that sucking a pacifier might open up air space around your little ones' mouth and nose, which ensures they get enough oxygen.
Much more research is certainly needed, but based on the current research, there's no denying that a pacifier is a simple way to help keep your sweet pea safe and sound through the night.
Should I Use the Cry It Out Training Method?
To cry it out, or to not cry it out, that is the question. As for the answer, well, we're sorry to say that this one is really up to you.
The "cry it out" method (CIO), known as extinction sleep training, is not for everyone. It involves tears (baby's, and probably yours, too) as well as a whole lot of patience. You also need to be able to fight the innate urge to soothe your fussy tot as they cry throughout the night.
While it may seem cruel not to tend to your teary-eyed sweet pea, the theory behind the method is as follows: not answering a baby's every beckoning call teaches them self-soothing mechanisms while promoting independent slumber each time they wake during the night.
As long as you know your little buddy is in a safe sleep environment and isn't hungry, sick, or in desperate need of a diaper change, experts say it's A-OK to leave them alone to settle down on their own in the night-time.
Don't think the "cry it out" method is for you? Don't worry, there are many other sleep tactics that you can try:
The Ferber Method
Also known as graduated extinction, the Ferber method is similar to the cry-it-out method, but it takes a gentler approach to build good sleep habits.
It involves checking on and briefly comforting your fussy chickpea at predetermined intervals rather than leaving them to cry it out through the night. The time between these intervals gradually increases, and you keep it up until your precious treasure drifts off into nighttime sleep on their own.
The Chair Method
Can't resist the tears? Perhaps the chair method is more up your alley! This technique teaches your darling angel to fall asleep without being picked up when they summon the waterworks.
The unique process involves putting your baby down, sitting in a chair close to the crib, comforting your little buddy if necessary, and then gradually inching the chair toward the door each night until you're finally out of the room.
This little by little approach allows babies to be calmed by a parental presence while learning how to fall asleep on their own.
Pick Up, Put Down
Another popular sleep training tactic is the "pick up, put down" method. The idea involves putting your little one in their crib and, if they fuss, going into their room to hold them for a few minutes before placing them back down when they're calm. The process is repeated again and as needed until your snoozy infant is settled and asleep.
Considered one of the gentler approaches to sleep training, many parents believe it teaches babies to self-soothe without feeling like they're abandoning them to "cry it out" alone in their cribs.
Just like when you're full of energy and can't sleep, the same goes for your baby. That's why the bedtime fading method makes perfect sense to many parents. It's a strategy based on the theory that if a baby simply isn't ready for sleep—they won't willingly hit the hay.
The fading approach involves paying extra close attention to your little buddy's sleep cues and adjusting their schedule to find the bedtime that works best. The idea is that you slowly fade out your baby's bedtime routine until it's no longer necessary for them to have a proper sleep cycle.
To try this method, keep an eye out for the telltale signs of sleepiness like eye-rubbing, fussing, and yawning. As soon as your little one displays these sleep signals, it's time for bed. This is your little buddy's current bedtime.
Once you've established the time your little buddy naturally gets drowsy, begin the baby beddy-bye routine ahead of time, including a warm bath with Soothing Shampoo, a relaxing massage with Nourishing Body Lotion, and a snuggly bedtime story.
Move the bedtime 15 minutes earlier (or later depending on your goal), following the same relaxing bedtime routine every couple of nights. Eventually, you will arrive at the ideal bedtime that suits both your schedule and your precious angel's sleep needs in each 24-hour period.
Baby sleep can be tough, but with Little Yawn Collective in your corner, happier bedtimes surely aren't out of reach! We've got zzz's down to a science and create safe, effective, melatonin-free sleep help for little buddies just like yours.
Here to empower parents and build confidence to establish bedtime routines that work with pediatrician-approved products, you can always count on us to help make sleep a little easier.
Ready to summon the sleepies? Check us out today for sweet dreams tomorrow.
Trust us, your sleep will thank us later!