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5 Sleep Techniques to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

Photo by: iStock

So you’ve come home with a happy, healthy baby and you’ve surrounded your precious angel’s crib with cozy blankets and stuffed animals. But according to Jen Varela, a San Diego, California-based founder of Sugar Night Night ( “Knowing how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby is the best way to get a peaceful nights sleep.” Check out these safe baby tips.

1. Keep your baby in your room but in a separate bed or crib so you have fast access in case there’s a problem. Make sure the mattress is firm so he doesn’t sink into a too-soft surface that could affect his breathing. Varela notes, “The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations in October 2016 to state that keeping your baby nearby, in your room but on a separate sleep surface is the safest place for your baby to sleep up to one year of age. They’re specific with that separate sleep surface defined as a crib or bassinet. Until there is more research is done they are not providing recommendations for or against bedside sleepers or in-bed sleepers like the DocATot.”

2. Put your baby on his back in his crib and keep it free of soft objects, bumpers (even “breathable” ones), blankets and toys. They can cause entrapment, strangulation or suffocation. Back sleeping is the safest sleep position and should be enforced until the baby is at least 12 months old. Varela adds that the only things that should be in a crib are the mattress and a fitted sheet. “Once babies are able to roll both ways they might be rolling in their sleep. Check with the doctor if at this point you should still be rolling them to their backs while they sleep,” she says.

3. Dress your baby in a sleep sack or a swaddling blanket and don’t let the nursery get hotter than 68 degrees. Sleeping in a too-hot room can make it hard to breathe, especially for an infant who has yet to develop motor skills and fast reflexes. “Infants tend to have higher body temperatures than older children, you want to be careful to not over dress them at bedtime. A good rule of thumb is one layer more for baby then you are wearing,” says Varela.

4. Don’t delay childhood vaccines. They’re not just meant to prevent illnesses, they strengthen your baby’s immune system.

5. Don’t smoke. Smoking affects lung development and dulls the senses which could keep your baby from reacting if he has breathing issues.

“With the increased awareness of how to prevent SIDS there has been an increase of babies with flat spots on their heads and torticollis. Torticollis is where the muscle that extends down the side of the neck is tight and shortened. The best way to prevent these issues is to work with your baby to spend time every day on their stomach in tummy time,” Varela advises. And share these tips with anyone looking after your precious cargo. It’s not just a case of helicopter parenting. It’s a case of life and death.

Shelley Moench-Kelly, MBA, is a New England-based writer and editor whose freelance clients include Google, L’Oreal Paris and

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