It's second nature to plan an adorable nursery that's coordinated from the art on the walls to the crib to the changing table. But while there's an infinite supply of bedding sets that appeal to your taste in decorating, those sets might not be safe. In fact, the breathing hazards presented by soft, cushy bedding have caused organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend against using plush pillows, blankets and bumpers.
Creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby is easy, and you can rest easy - or as easily as new parents can - knowing that your baby is both comfortable and safe. Consider these tips to give your baby the best sleeping environment.
- Always place your baby on her back whenever you're laying her down to sleep. Since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched its "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1994, urging parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, deaths from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) have been reduced by nearly half, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2012.
- Use a crib that meets current safety standards. While there might be sentimental value attached to a crib passed down through generations of family members, it's not likely to meet the most up-to-date ideas of safety. Even if you have a modern crib, it's important to pay attention to recalls - millions of drop-side cribs have been recalled in recent years. To see if your crib has been affected, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov.
- In your crib, place a firm mattress that fits in place snugly. Try out the "two finger test" - if you can fit two or more fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib, the mattress is too small.
- Choose a bedding set that supports baby's safety. Quilt and bumper sets might be cute, but the importance of safe sleep for your baby should be paramount. A simple sheet is enough for your baby's crib, when combined with a comforting wearable blanket that keeps baby feeling secure.
- Don't dress baby too warmly for sleep, even if that's what you think is comfortable. Keeping baby's temperature at a safe level is important, so avoid overdressing and keep the room temperature at 68 to 72 degrees.