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One of the most important ways to keep your baby safe is to follow the rules of safe sleep.
Narrator: Your newborn will spend a lot of time sleeping – 16 to 18 hours a day – in short stretches. Newborns can fall asleep almost anywhere: in your arms, on a changing table, in the car, even during bath time.
But no matter when or where your baby sleeps, you'll want to make sure he's safe. Suffocation, entrapment, strangulation, and SIDS (or sudden infant death syndrome) are all risks for sleeping newborns.
Midwife Miriam Maldonado teaches parents about safe sleeping practices.
Midwife Miriam Maldonado: You put your baby completely flat on their back, with no blankets or any toys in the crib.
Narrator: Many newborns sleep best when swaddled. This is safe – as long as you swaddle your baby securely so the blanket doesn't come loose. You stop swaddling once your baby can break free or roll over.
Put your baby to sleep on his back to reduce the risk of SIDS. It's the leading cause of death among babies one month to 1 year old.
Don't place rolled blankets, a sleep positioner, or other objects in the crib to keep your baby on his back. If your newborn rolls to his side or tummy by himself, it's okay – as long as you originally put him down on his back.
Use a firm, flat mattress with a fitted sheet for your crib or bassinet, and no crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, or toys.
Make the room a comfortable temperature, so your baby's not too warm: Between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit if it's cold outside, or between 75 and 78 degrees if it's warm outside.
Your baby doesn't need a lot of layers. A good rule of thumb is to dress him in the amount of clothing you'd need to be comfortable, then add one layer.
If you think your baby needs a blanket, try a wearable one. These can't cover your baby's face. Some have flaps you can fold over to swaddle your baby's arms.
Consider offering your baby a pacifier at sleep time. Studies show a lower risk of SIDS among babies under 1 who use a pacifier while sleeping. You don't need to force your baby to use a pacifier if he doesn't like it, and there's no need to reinsert it if it falls out when your baby's sleeping.
Place your baby's crib, cosleeper, bassinet, or play yard in your room near your bed. Studies show that sharing a room, but not a bed, may lower your baby's risk of SIDS significantly.
Never smoke near your baby or allow others to do so. This increases the risk of SIDS.
Breastfeeding and following the recommended vaccine schedule also reduce the risk of SIDS.
Your newborn may love sleeping in other places, like a baby seat, car seat, swing, or baby carrier. If so, ask your baby's doctor about precautions you can take to make this safer.
Once your newborn is sleeping safe and sound, relax and enjoy! There are few things as beautiful as your sleeping baby.