Rest Easy with These Baby-Safe Sleep Tips

Is your baby’s sleep safety keeping you awake? Here are some precautions to give you peace of mind.

Creating a safe sleep environment is one of the most important ways to protect your infant from life-threating injuries. Practice these sleeping habits to create a happy and healthy night for you and your baby.

  • If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib side, the crib is unsafe.

  • Sleep sacks (wearable blankets) are a safe alternative to blankets.

  • Don't sleep in the same bed with your baby; place their crib or bassinet in your room, and return them to it after feeding or cuddle time.

  • Always lay your baby on his or her back for sleeping.

  • Lower the mattress as your baby begins to push up to prevent falls.

  • Remove bumpers, stuffed animals, blankets, pillows and other accessories from the crib; a firm mattress and tight-fitting crib sheet is all that's needed.

  • If you can fit a can of soda between the crib slats, a child's head, hand or foot can get stuck.

  • Don't use a crib with drop side-rails.

  • Learn infant CPR.

  • Don't place a crib, highchair or playpen near windows, draperies or blinds.

  • Never place a baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.

  • Always fill out and return the product registration card to be notified personally if it gets recalled or has a safety defect.

SOURCE: National Safety Council

Most parents think they know how to use a child car seat, but the truth is four out of five safety seats are used incorrectly. Car crashes are a leading cause of fatality for children, raising the stakes for parent drivers in selecting their child’s first car seat. Here are some expert tips to help you make a safe choice:

1. Car seats have expiration dates

It’s important to buy new car seat whenever possible. Over time, car seats break down from regular wear and tear, changes in temperature and how they are cleaned. If you’re borrowing one, make sure the seat has not been involved in a crash, has all its original parts and labels, is not expired, and hasn’t been recalled.

2. Know your child’s measurements

To keep your kids safe in the back seat, choose your car seat or booster seat based on your child’s weight, height, and developmental level. Only two in 100 children live in a state that requires child safety seats or booster seats for children 8 and under. Remember, seat belts are not designed for children’s bodies, and most kids do not achieve proper seat belt fit until they are 4’9”.

3. Make sure it’s installed correctly

We lose at least one child every day to a car crash. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce that risk by as much as 71 percent for infants, 54 percent for toddlers, and 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8, according to the CDC. A certified Child Passenger Safety Technician can help make sure all equipment is used correctly, and ease your mind.

4. Don’t fall for the accessory trap

The number one job of your child’s car seat is safety. Toys and accessories (like head supports and covers for infant car seats) may promise extra comfort, but if they did not come with the car seat they pose other risks, and could interfere with safety restraints working properly. Many car seat manufacturers void their warranty if these non-factory products are used, so be in the know. When in doubt, call the manufacturer.

5. Always look before you lock

It’s safer to keep children rear-facing as long as possible through age 2, so make it a habit to check the back seat every time. Parents, especially new parents, are often tired and rushed; forgetting a sleeping baby is 100 percent preventable. Children should never be left unattended in a car seat inside or outside of a vehicle. It’s also a good idea to lock the vehicle so small children cannot access the car and become trapped.

We can and must do better to protect our most precious cargo. Help keep your family safe by buckling up all passengers (including yourself) — every trip, every time.