Infant Sleep Environment and Bedding

  • Medical researchers have studied the possibility that soft bedding may trap exhaled air that contains low amounts of oxygen. The baby then may rebreathe this air and not get enough oxygen. The lack of oxygen may present a challenge to a baby in the critical development development period (first six months) and serve as a triggering event for SIDS.
  • Soft surfaces, such as pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins or stuffed toys should be removed from the baby’s sleep environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendation For Infant Sleep Environment and Bedding

  • “A firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet, is the recommended sleeping surface”
  • “Keep soft objects (such as pillows, quilts, comforters and stuffed toys) and loose bedding out of the crib”
  • Infants may be brought into bed for nursing or comfort but should be returned to their own crib or bassinet when the parent is ready to return to sleep
  • “There is growing evidence that room sharing is associated with reduced risk of SIDS. The AAP recommends a separate but proximate (close) sleeping environment”

How to Create a Safe Sleep Environment For Your Baby

  • Place the baby on his/her back on a standard, firm infant mattress to sleep.
  • Do not place the baby on makeshift or improvised sleeping arrangements or bedding intended for adult use, such as a sofa, sofa cushion, waterbed, featherbed, bean bag, pillow, or sheepskin to sleep (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  • Avoid using second-hand, hand-me-down or family heirloom cribs, cradles, mattresses or other bedding items which may be unsafe and not meet current safety standards (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  • Consider having your baby sleep in a sleeper or jump suit with no blankets.
  • If you choose to use blankets, use lightweight blankets in the baby’s crib and avoid using soft, fluffy blankets, comforters or quilts. A receiving blanket is typically sufficient.
  • Remove extra items from the baby’s crib or sleep environment, e.g. pillows, rolls of bedding, stuffed animals, hanging toys, etc. Positioning devices marketed to keep babies on their backs should not be used!
  • Instead, place decorative items (quilts and pillows) elsewhere in the baby’s room for decoration.
  • Always keep baby’s face and head clear of blankets and remember, it is not necessary to cover the baby’s head with a hat indoors.

What is “BEDSHARING” and is it safe?
Sometimes parents do not have cribs for their baby or choose to sleep with their babies, placing them in an adult bed. This is often referred to as “Bedsharing.”

It is important to know that babies have died accidentally in adult beds and while sleeping with adults and/or siblings on surfaces not designed for an infant. Babies may suffocate or be wedged between the bed and the wall or headboard. The adult bed is an unsafe place for babies!

Research demonstrates that babies are at an increased risk of dying when sleeping in adult beds, particularly prior to 11 weeks of age. Another study shows the risk is up to 40 times greater while sleeping in an adult bed, rather than a safe crib. The safest place for your baby to sleep is alone, on his or her back, and in a crib.

Babies should also never sleep on couches, waterbeds, chairs or pillows.

For more information about the above issues, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website and read their position statement regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.