7 Tips For Safe Sleep Habits

sleeping baby
sleeping baby. Westend61/Getty Images

There is one thing and one thing only that I am most passionate about as a parent:


I'm probably not the only one who feels that way, right? But there was a time in my parenting that I really thought that babies never slept and that I was being a "mean" parent if I tried to ensure that my little ones slept more at night. Now, however, I know better and I know that sleep is so, so important for both children and parents.

Babies grow and develop so much in their sleep and a rested parent is a happy parent, in my book. 

That being said, sleep is also a major source of anxiety for me. I never stop worrying about putting my baby down to sleep and because of that, I've tried to ensure that we establish safe sleeping habits very early on, such as:

1. Use a wearable blanket. Wearable blankets allow you to rest easier knowing that your baby can't squirm or kick her way out of a swaddle and accidentally end up with a blanket on her face. 

2. Keep the baby close by. For the first few months, we use a playpen in our room to keep a closer eye on the baby and ensure easier nighttime feedings, which of course = more sleep for everyone. The AAP is now recommending that all parents and caregivers room share with their infant for at least six months and up to one year of life. This means sharing a room, but not a sleeping surface, with your baby.


3. Use a fan. Putting a fan in the room has been linked to reducing the risk of SIDS and it's such a simple thing to do. Every single one of my children sleeps with their own fan and although it may make travel tricky (don't forget the fan at Grandma's!), I still think it's worth it. Just be sure to position the fan so it doesn't point directly at your child, of course.

Using a fan also has one added hidden benefit for those postpartum night sweats. (Tell me I'm not the only one who gets those?) 

4. Introduce a pacifier. Using a pacifier has also been shown to be associated with reducing the risk of SIDS, so you may want to consider introducing one to your baby once she or he has feeding established. Personally, I've never been able to get any of my four children to take a pacifier and instead, have become the pacifier myself (darn it), but babies who use a pacifier may be able to self-soothe a little bit better and have the added bonus of a possible lower risk of SIDS, so that sounds like a win-win to me. 

5. Keep pajamas light. Make sure your baby doesn't overheat with lightweight pajamas, like cotton sleepwear or onesies for summer. 

6. Breastfeed if possible. Breastfeeding has been found to be reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%, so of course, if you can, consider breastfeeding your baby. 

7. Invest in a good video monitor. A few weeks ago, my almost three-year-old son came running into my room in the morning and said, "Mama, Mama, the baby is the wrong way!" I almost had a heart attack and sprinted into the nursery, where I found that the baby had somehow gotten out of her swaddle, flipped on her stomach, and scooted through her crib, so that both of her legs were hanging out between the crib slats.

Somehow, she was fast asleep through the whole process, but the incident scared me so much that I am now officially never without a video monitor anywhere I go in the house. 

However, the AAP does not recommend that any parents routinely rely on any monitors or wearable technology, such as breathing monitors, to keep their babies safe. Instead, the best way is always check on your little one and follow safe sleep habits. 

What are your favorite sleep tips?


Vennemann, M.M et. al. Does Breastfeeding Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? Pediatrics Journal. (March 2009). Accessed online 5, May 2015: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/3/e406.abstract. 

Moon, R.Y. et .al. Pacifier use and SIDS: evidence for a consistently reduced risk. Maternal Child Health Journal. 2012 Apr;16(3):609-14. Accessed online May 5, 2015: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21505778

Coleman-Phox, K. Use of a fan during sleep and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Arch Pediatriac Adolesc Med. 2008 Oct. Accessed online May 5, 2015: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18838649. 

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