At Lil Helper, we care about the well-being of kids and families. Its why we created our God Forbid Guarantee, and why we are thrilled to have teamed up with Shayna Raphael of The Claire Bear Foundation for this piece all about safe sleep. As parents, we’ve all experienced both the sleep deprivation of young kids and the worry of wanting them always to be safe and well. To make that as simple as possible, Shayna shares her knowledge of AAP recommendations & baby products here.
Safe Sleep: The Basics
Safe sleep can seem overwhelming, but taking it back to basics makes it a little easier to understand. Let’s focus on the ABCs recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
A stands for Alone:
Babies should be alone in their safe sleep space, with nothing except for a fitted sheet, a sleep sack or swaddle, and a pacifier. Swaddling should end by eight weeks or baby’s first signs of rolling, and then moving to a sleep sack is a wonderful choice. Pacifier safety involves plain pacifiers, not attached to a clip or stuffed animal—but parents need not be afraid to throw a few in there so baby can reach them.
B stands for Back:
Babies should be placed on their backs at the start of every sleep. If baby rolls over by himself while in a sleep space, he can stay there, but you want to continue to place him on the back for every nap. Why? Well, babies are forever changing, and their development can sometimes come in waves. While one day a baby can roll all by herself, the next day she might be sick or overly tired and not have that same strength. So start out on the back, and let baby get there all by herself!
C stands for Crib:
Babies should sleep in a crib, bassinet, or pack n play. In the U.S., these items are highly regulated to meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards to keep baby safe. So if you’re ever unsure about a device, check out those standards for safe sleep!
Please note: Our guest blogger, Shayna, is sharing her wealth of knowledge based on standards in the United States. Always base your product use on the recommendations from the country you purchase your products in. In Canada, play yard’s are not recommended for sleep. For the most up to date guidelines in Canada, see here.
Infant Sleep Products
Being a new parent can be overwhelming, and if you throw in all these products on the market, it certainly adds to that uncertainty. Unfortunately, there are many products on the market that seem like a dream come true, but too many aren’t safety tested for infants. Did you know that nappers and sleepers aren’t actually regulated for sleep? While they have standards for their material, they don’t meet ASTM standards for safe sleep. Likewise, breastfeeding pillows, nests, and sleep positioners are also for awake time only. This can seem confusing when advertising shows infants sleeping in these products, but the AAP has made it very clear that the evidence shows babies are safest in regulated items.
Old School vs. Evidence-Based Practices for Safe Sleep
Perhaps the biggest obstacle when navigating infants sleep is sifting through older recommendations, new data, and family and friends telling us, “Well I did it, and it turned out fine.” Data and recommendations have changed over the years, and with that, new practices have been established. For example, inclined sleep is no longer the recommendation for congestion or reflux. It sounds counterintuitive, but babies actually clear their airways better when flat on their backs. If you are concerned about something like severe reflux or GERD, always talk to you doctor about your concerns. If they recommend inclined sleep, a medical grade monitor is much more reliable than at-home device. Sleep positioner, wedges, and bed-sharing are all practices that are no longer supported by the AAP due to risk for infants.
Don’t feel like you have to navigate this alone! If you’re in need of a safe sleep space or support navigating information, reach out to us at www.theclariebearfoundation.org.
About the Author
Shayna is an educational consultant in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband. Together, they have had three beautiful daughters. Unfortunately, Shayna lost her second child to unsafe sleep at child care. Since that time, Shayna has become a fierce advocate for infant safety and founded a non-profit, The Claire Bear Foundation. She believes strongly, and knows first-hand, that safe sleep can save lives.