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Sleep Safety

SIDS and SUIDS | Sleeping Safely | Crib Safety | Wearable Blankets


Given that we are in the business of helping parents and babies sleep better, it’s great to note that we now know more than ever about the crucial role sleep plays in a baby’s brain development - from studies that suggest babies with more sleep have better cognitive development to those that show that growth hormones released during sleep help babies grow big and strong.

From a practical standpoint, we also recognize that for every new parent, getting a good night’s sleep takes on a whole new level of importance. While the importance of helping the newest member(s) of the family learn to sleep independently, for longer stretches of time, and ideally at night (and nap) time is often the understandable result of new-parent sleep deprivation, nothing compares to the importance of ensuring one’s infant is safe at all times, including during sleep. Along with this universal desire keep all babies safe comes the need to discuss a difficult yet critically important subject. That subject is SIDS (or SUIDS).

What is SIDS and SUIDS? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3,500 infants in the US die unexpectedly each year from Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), - a form of SUIDS.  As the name implies, SIDS is defined as a sudden death of an infant under 1 years old. Other names for SIDS include “crib death” or “cot death.”  Although these tragic deaths are typically categorized as “unexplained,” (hence the addition of the U to SUIDS), many occur in unsafe sleep environments.  

“Understanding and practicing safe sleep with infants is important because Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. At the same time, we know that practicing the safe sleep measures recommended in the Safe to Sleep Campaign (originally known as Back to Sleep, which launched in 1994) has been credited with effectively decreasing SIDS rates by nearly 50%.”

- Dr. Laura Jana

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How to help my baby sleep safely?

To help reduce the risk of SIDS, there are a number of effective measures that you and all parents or caregivers should take. Here are the practical and well-established tips we’ve collected from CDC and WebMD to help your baby sleep safely.

  • Back to Sleep. Always place your baby to sleep on her back when sleeping. When a baby is sleeping on her side, it is easier for her to roll onto her stomach.
  • Safe Crib. Make sure your crib is safe for your baby.
  • Share a Room, Not a Bed. Consider having your baby sleep in a crib, cradle, or bassinet in the same room where you sleep for the first six months. Sharing a room can help you more easily respond and tend to your baby’s nighttime needs, but without the risks associated with sharing a bed.
  • Nothin’ but Baby. While it admittedly may seem a bit barren, make very sure your baby’s sleep is safe by not having anything but baby in it. This includes such tempting items as pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, and blankets - all of which are thought to increase a baby’s risk of suffocation. 
  • Set the Temp. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. The room temperature recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Do not overheat your baby. To help regulate your baby’s temperature, use a wearable blanket.
  • Breastfeeding Support. Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS. If you’re interested in breastfeeding your baby but are experiencing any difficulty, make sure that you enlist the help and support of your pediatrician or other health professional.
  • Pacifier Use. Although the reasons are unknown, using a pacifier during sleep has been also known to reduce the risk of SIDS. Some babies may resist a pacifier.

“Many babies take to using a pacifier while falling asleep without any need for coaxing. For those who resist, however, it’s fine to try offering a pacifier a few times, but don't force it, and don’t feel the need to repeatedly put the pacifier back in a baby’s mouth if/when it falls out during sleep. Other tips include not using attaching any strings to the pacifier (as this poses a safety risk), and waiting to introduce the pacifier until breastfeeding is well established (so as not to interfere).”

- Dr. Laura Jana

  • Prevent All Smoke Exposure. Not only should you not allow anyone to smoke near your baby, but make it a point to keep smokers out of the rooms, car and other places where your baby spends time as secondhand smoke is also a concern.
  • Tummy Time. While back-sleeping is the hallmark of safe sleep, spending time on their bellies is important for babies’ healthy development. Make sure your baby gets plenty of tummy time when she’s awake to help her develop her head and neck muscles.

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Is my crib safe?  

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in her crib or bassinet. Each baby should be placed in her own crib if you have multiple infants in your care. Here are some important details from Consumer Reports that you should be aware of and follow to ensure your baby’s crib is safe:

  • Check out the safety standards of Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Make sure your crib meets these safety standards.
  • You should be using a firm and tight-fitting mattress to ensure that your baby will not get trapped between the crib and mattress.
  • Make sure the sheet cover is tightly fitted as well. If it does not fit snugly around the mattress, do not use.
  • While decorative pillows, crib bumpers and stuffed animals can be cute, they are a suffocation hazard. It’s best to keep them out of the crib. If you must use a crib bumper, find one with mesh material that is breathable.
  • Make sure there is no more than 2 3/8 inches between the crib slats. If the width of a soda can can fit through the slat, your baby’s body can get stuck.
  • Check the corner posts. They should not be over 1/16th inch high. If it is higher than 1/16th inch, your baby’s clothes can get caught.
  • Make sure there are no cutouts in the headboard or footboard where your baby’s head can get trapped.
  • Sleep positioners are not recommended.
  • Remember, back sleeping is the gold standard. Sleep positioners are not thought to effectively keep babies in their intended position (back or otherwise) and at the same time pose a potential suffocation risk.

"While sleep positioners are products meant to keep babies on their backs (and in some instances, on their sides), the fact of the matter is that they have been found not only to be unnecessary, but pose a serious suffocation risk to sleeping babies. Even when babies have been placed in them as intended on their backs or sides, they’ve been found in potentially hazardous positions as they role and move during sleep. That’s why the safest crib is considered to be one with only a mattress and tight-fitting sheet, and the recommendation is for parents to stop using sleep positioners or ANY device to hold an infant on his back or side for sleep.”

-Dr. Laura Jana

  • Register your baby’s crib (and other baby products) so that you can be notified of any recalls. Additionally, you can be on the lookout for the most current information on juvenile product recalls at

If you are using a playpen or cribs with mesh siding:

  • Check the mesh frequently to ensure that there are no tears or loose threads.
  • Also check to make sure the top rail has no tears or holes.
  • Make sure the mesh holes are less than 1/4 inch.

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How to safely use a wearable blanket?

Using a wearable blanket such as the Little Lotus Swaddle or the Little Lotus Sleeping Bag is highly recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS due to loose blankets in an infant’s bed. To ensure the proper use of a swaddle or sleeping bag, check out these instructions:

How to Swaddle:

  • Unzip the left zipper to open the entire front panel. Place the infant on top ensuring the neck is aligned with the neck opening.
  • Place the front layer over the infant and secure the shoulder snaps and left zipper. The arms can be placed inside for a tighter swaddle.
  • Secure the zipper lock on the side. Do not use if the infant’s head can pass through the neck opening when closed.
  • For an ideal swaddle, the wrap should be snug, but not tight.
  • Right zipper slider allows for easy diaper access without disturbing the wings.

When your baby shows signs of rolling over, it’s time to transition to a sleeping bagThat’s because when baby is able to wiggle or “break free” from the swaddle, it’s no longer considered safe to swaddle. Some babies may still experience the Moro (or startle) reflex by the time they are ready to transition out of a swaddle. You can help your baby transition by having one arm in and one arm out of the swaddle for a few nights. Then, have both arms out for a few nights by placing the swaddle velcro underneath baby’s arms. This will help your baby adjust to having arms free.

“The Moro (or Startle) reflex typically is only present in the first couple of months in a baby’s life and then fades away, so it becomes less of a problem as baby gets older. That’s often when parents do feel comfortable and are able to switch babies from a more snugged swaddle to a sleeping bag. Sometimes, a baby may still have some degree of startle and it still wakes her up. In these cases, babies sometimes do well laying up against the side of the crib, which provides a sense of snugness. Parents do need to make sure that there are no bumpers or blankets to ensure the crib is safe.”

- Dr. Laura Jana

How to use a Sleeping Bag:

  • Unzip the left zipper to open the entire front panel. Place the infant on top ensuring the neck & arms are aligned with the openings.
  • Secure the zipper lock on the side. Do not use if the infant’s head can pass through the neck opening when closed.
  • Right zipper slider allows for easy diaper access without disturbing the infant.  

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