Safe sleep is a passion of ours because, unfortunately, over 3,500 babies die per year from sleep-related deaths. In fact, it is the #1 cause of death in the first year of life. The good news is that the majority of these deaths can be avoided if you simply follow the ABC's of Safe Sleep:

  • A — Baby sleeping Alone
  • B — Baby sleeping on their Back
  • C — Baby sleeping in their Crib

A Alone in their crib.

It is absolutely critical that your baby sleeps Alone in their crib. As tempting as it may be to bring them into your bed, it unfortunately increases the risk of sleep-related death by tenfold. That's because you may accidentally roll on top of your baby; your baby's face and airway may be covered by loose bedding or sheets; or your baby could become wedged between the bed and the wall. All of these put your baby at great risk of suffocation.

Be especially careful while feeding your baby on a couch or an armchair because if you accidentally fall asleep, it will increase the risk of a sleep-related death by 50times. That's because they can accidentally roll over and get wedged between the soft cushions.

The good news is that you can safely sleep close to your baby. In fact, it's recommended for the first 6-12 months that you share a room with your baby and they sleep on their own sleeping surface, such as a crib or bassinet. That's actually going to decrease the risk of a sleep-related death by tenfold.

B Back to sleep.

It's important that you always place your baby on their Back to sleep. Doing so will reduce the risk of a sleep-related death by 50%. That's because stomach sleeping can obstruct their airway or cause overheating. Also, with side-sleeping, your baby's inevitably going to roll over to their stomach. Stomach sleeping unfortunately also increases the risk of aspiration. That's because when your baby lays on their belly, their trachea is below their esophagus, and if your baby spits up (as babies tend to do), the contents will go down the trachea and into the lungs. Whereas, conversely, if your baby sleeps on their back, if they spit up, their esophagus is below their airway so the contents will either go out of their mouth or back down their feeding tube.

Before the American Academy of Pediatrics released their Back to Sleep campaign, over 8,000 babies died per year of sleep-related deaths. In fact, Since then, we have been able to cut that number in half.

Crib. Be sure to let your baby sleep in their Crib.

Lastly, C stands for Crib. It's only safe for your baby to sleep in either a crib or a bassinet. Inclined sleepers are not safe for sleep. In fact, a major manufacturer recalled their inclined sleeper in 2019 after 32 infant deaths had been traced to their device.

In addition, your baby should not sleep in a swing, a sitting device, or an improperly installed car seat. That's because of the increased risk of positional asphyxiation. What happens is if their head collapses, it can block their airway, and prevent their chest from expanding in order to take a breath.

As handy as all those devices may be, I'm sure you agree they're not worth the risk. The only safe place for your baby to sleep is alone in a sleep-approved crib or bassinet. There should be nothing else in the crib or bassinet but your baby. No bumper pads, no lovies, you want to make sure that their mattress is firm, breathable, and that the crib sheet is tightly fitted -- because the crib sheet can slip out of place and cause suffocation, which is why I love the nook sleep system and their safe sleep mattress cover. You don't have to worry; it eliminates the risk.

As parents, there's nothing in the world that's more precious or sacred than our babies. I know it can be absolutely terrifying to think about a sleep-related death. However, if you follow the AAP's ABC's to safe sleep, the risk will be dramatically reduced.


Kelly Murray is a certified Pediatric and Adult Sleep Consultant based in Chicago and lives with her husband, two children under 6, and fur baby. She and her team, The Sleep Squad, specialize in helping families worldwide obtain the restful sleep they so desperately need through holistic, mindful, and customized sleep programs and support. 

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