An infant is both thrilling and terrifying at once; one major cause of worry is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SUID).
Establishing a safe environment will help safeguard against Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome and other risks such as choking or overheating. Babies should sleep on a flat and firm surface in their crib or bassinet for optimal safety.
Set Up a Safe Sleeping Environment
Safe sleep environments for newborns are of utmost importance. By creating this environment, parents can help reduce the risk of accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), in which healthy babies under 1 year old suddenly die without an explanation for their death in their sleep. Safe sleeping environments can be created simply by adhering to certain guidelines.
Babies should sleep on a firm, flat mattress placed on a safety-approved crib or bassinet (or its attachment on a play yard), covered only by a fitted sheet. Do not place pillows, blankets, sheepskins, toys or anything else into their sleep area as this could cover their head and neck and cause overheating and suffocation; also avoid in-bed sleeping products like nests or pods which could suffocate an infant if they roll onto their stomach or side while sleeping!
Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet when it is time for sleep times. A fan is also beneficial in maintaining a healthy room temperature and creating an ideal sleeping environment. Babies born to mothers who smoked during gestation or post birth are at greater risk of SIDS; therefore it is crucial that no cigarette smoke enters their bedroom.
Newborns should always sleep alone in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets current Canadian safety regulations. Sharing beds with adults increases SIDS risk 67 times; also increasing risks such as rolling or falling out of the bed.
Babies should always sleep on their back for every sleep session (including naps) until they can roll over independently. While it is okay for newborns to briefly lie on their tummies (such as during feedings), this should never involve positioning in a “flipper” position or supporting it with foam wedges or sleep positioners.
As a community organization, day care center or faith-based center that serves parents and their babies, it’s essential that you spread the ABCs of safe sleeping to families within your service area. To do so, we offer bulk educational materials free of charge that you can distribute across your service area – to request these click here.
Create a Safe Play Environment
Infants and toddlers use play to learn how to move, communicate, socialize and understand their environments (Bergen, Reid & Torelli 2009). Therefore, safe play environments that are both child and family friendly are crucial for young children’s well-being and learning – particularly if adults don’t constantly monitor them and restrict movement which can be stressful for infants and toddlers.
Many parents who follow Magda Gerber’s RIE Educaring approach and the Pikler method of infant and toddler care create “yes” spaces in their home for babies or crawlers to explore freely without interruption; this has proven immensely helpful for the development of these young ones.
For early educators and families interested in creating child-friendly play environments, the Office of Head Start’s Caring Connections series developed Early Essentials Webisode 7: Environments (2018) as an 18-minute video resource. This webisode explores what messages environments send to young children while offering teaching strategies and related resources. In addition, Let’s Talk About Environments (2017) is a 14-minute podcast discussing why it is essential that infants and toddlers find comfort in environments that feel like home while small group sizes with lower child-adult ratios can create safe play environments.
Keep Your Baby Safe
If you want your baby to remain happy and healthy, certain steps must be taken by creating a non-toxic home. Injuries are the leading cause of infant deaths worldwide and they can come from many sources: motor vehicle accidents are one of the more likely causes; but other dangers like suffocation, poisoning and drowning could come from within their home as well. Newborns are particularly prone to these dangers from everyday items.
Babies need plenty of sleep in order to grow and develop properly, and you can help ensure they get enough by providing them with a safe sleeping environment. This involves protecting them from potential choking hazards like toys, blankets, pillows and bumper pads as well as making sure they don’t overheat during sleep – this may involve dressing them in a sleep sack instead of blanket and using fans in their room if the temperature becomes too warm.
Your crib or bassinet must also be placed in a safe area in your home, and co-sleeping with your newborn should be avoided as this can increase risk of suffocation or other injuries. Furthermore, maintaining a smoke-free environment is highly desirable as infants exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS.
Maintaining a tidy household can be daunting when raising a newborn, yet its importance for their wellbeing cannot be overstated. Be wary of chemicals, cleaning products or any toxins within reach of your infant; some products contain vibrant labels with attractive fragrances which draw young children in, while disinfectants could pose risks if consumed orally. Consider installing stove knob covers to protect burners and childproof cabinets which contain potentially hazardous products and chemicals.
As part of your responsibility as a caregiver, make sure close family and friends of your baby receive appropriate immunizations that will protect against illness or even death, such as Tdap to combat pertussis (whooping cough), flu vaccinations during flu season and the COVID-19 vaccine.