An uncluttered sleeping space is the safest place for your baby.

What is the Safest Thing for a Baby to Sleep in?

by Stacey Chaloux

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your baby safe. Since your baby will spend a large part of his day asleep, it is important that his sleeping environment is the safest it can be. Many infants die during sleep due to entrapment, entanglement, suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This risk can be greatly reduced by following some simple recommendations.

Choosing a Crib

Before buying or borrowing a crib, bassinet or play yard, be sure to check that the product has not been recalled. Do not use cribs that are more than 10 years old or ones that are broken, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Always make sure that you follow the instructions carefully to assemble the crib or bassinet your baby will use and ensure that all the pieces fit properly. The crib should have no gaps larger than two fingers' width between the mattress and the sides and no more than 2 3/8 inches between the slats, according to the National SUID/SIDS Resource Center. Your infant can slip through the gaps and become trapped, leading to strangulation or suffocation. Never add padding or extra mattresses to a play yard your baby will be sleeping in.

Bare is Best

Though you may have imagined your baby wrapped cozily in his blankets, snuggling with his stuffed animal to sleep, it is safest for your baby to sleep in an uncluttered crib. You should use a firm mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet. Keep all other soft objects such as loose blankets, pillows and soft toys out of the crib, as these can block your baby's airway, causing him to suffocate. It may be best to skip the bumper pad as well, especially once your baby can stand and use it to climb, according to the CSPC. It is also not recommended to use a sleep positioner or wedge, as these have not been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS, as they claim to do, according to the AAP.

What to Wear

When you put your baby to bed, he should be dressed in no more than one extra layer than you would wear, according to the AAP. He should not be sweating or feel warm to the touch, which are signs of overheating. Instead of using blankets, consider using a sleeper or a sleep sack. Sleep sacks are zippered blankets that your infant can wear while sleeping. Make sure that the sleep sack fits properly -- not so tight that your baby is uncomfortable, but not so loose that he can wiggle down into it and cover his face. If you do choose to use a blanket, place your baby with his feet at the end of the crib and tuck a light blanket tightly into the mattress so that it only reaches up to your little one's chest, recommends the National SUID/SIDS Resource Center.

Safe Surroundings

Not only do you need to think about the safety of your baby's crib, but also the rest of his sleep environment. Make sure that there are no loose or dangling cords near his bed that he could become entangled in, especially once he becomes interested in reaching and grabbing. The AAP recommends placing your baby in the same room as you to sleep, but not in the same bed to avoid the risk of overlaying or becoming trapped in the sheets. If your little one falls asleep in a car seat, carrier or swing, he should be moved to his own bed as soon as possible. It is not safe to place his car seat or carrier into the crib while he is sleeping in it because babies have been known to flip over the edge of these and become trapped, according to the CPSC.

About the Author

Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images