Sleep is an integral part of your child’s life. It helps in the development of their physical health and emotional wellness. Newborns tend to sleep for at least 16 hours a day, for periods of 3-4 hours. You need to ensure that your baby is safe and secure while he sleeps. The essential parts of safe sleep for your child includes their sleeping position, the type of crib or bed, the firmness of their mattress and the overall home environment.

Creating a safe sleeping environment for your child helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and injuries. Here are five tips to ensure your baby is safe when sleeping.

1. Sleeping Position

For the first six months, it is imperative to rest your baby on their back for both day and night sleep. It is not safe to sleep your baby on their side or tummy. Sleeping on their back helps to reduce the chances of choking while asleep. If your child has a medical condition, consult with your pediatrician on the best sleep position that best suits them.

2. Room SharingThe American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that you sleep in the same room with your baby during the first 6 to 12 months of their life. However, you should not share beds.

Bed sharing is one of the most common causes of death in infants. Preferably, keep your baby’s crib next to your bed so that you can watch over them as they sleep. Room sharing helps to reduce the risk of SIDS by at least 50%. It also makes it easier for you to feed, comfort and watch your baby as they sleep.

3. Do Not Let Anyone Smoke in The Same Room As Your BabySmoking during pregnancy or after birth significantly increases the risk of SIDS for your child. No one should smoke in a house with a newborn baby. When your child is exposed to cigarette smoke after birth, it increases their risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). Scientific evidence shows that 60% of sudden infant deaths can be linked to smoking. If you or your partner smoke, do it outside to keep the air in your baby’s environment free of smoke.

4. Get a Safe CribMake sure your baby’s crib complies with the current safety standards. The gaps between the railings should not be bigger than 2 3/8’ to avoid your child slipping through and strangling themselves. Also, the corner post extensions should not be greater than 1/16’ to prevent clothing from catching and strangling the baby. Also, do not place the crib next to drapery cords or window blinds as they may strangle your baby.

5. Use a Firm Flat Surface to Sleep OnPillows, waterbeds, couches and other soft material are not safe sleep surfaces for babies. Your baby can turn and bury their face in the soft material and suffocate due to lack of air. Invest in the best crib mattress that is firm enough for your child’s safety.

A good crib mattress should not indent when your baby is lying on it. Also, remove any soft objects, stuffed toys and loose beddings from your baby’s crib since they increase the risk of suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. If you use a blanket, make sure you tuck it in at the bottom sides of the crib away from your child’s face.

Sleep safety is a critical part of raising a healthy child. Make sure your baby is adequately fed when sleeping. If they sleep a lot, wake them up regularly for feeds. Also, do not let your child get too hot as it may interact with their sleep.