Safe Sleep in the Real World
Last week I shared with you some of the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricians regarding safe sleep. Many families (mine included) are aware of safe sleep guidelines, but don't always practice them. Why? Usually because the parents are exhausted, frustrated, busy, sick...basically real life gets in the way. So here are a few tips to practice safe sleep even when life is crazy.
Make safe sleep a priority
If safe sleep is important to you, make a commitment to always practice safe sleep. Ask your partner to hold you accountable. Hold your partner accountable. Find a friend to hold you accountable. Check in with yourself daily to hold yourself accountable. You can even make yourself a sticker chart (or something similar). If you practice safe sleep for 7 days and nights, you can reward yourself.
Keep your baby out of your bed
It's easy to bring your baby to bed with you, especially in the early days when you're exhausted and baby seems to be up all night. I encourage you to get out of bed to feed your baby. Sit in a supportive, but not super comfy, chair when you feed your baby to prevent you from falling asleep.
Monitor your baby
At some point, your baby will fall asleep in a "unapproved sleeping device," usually a car seat, swing, lounger or bouncy seat. You don't necessarily need to move them, but you do need to make sure their airway is unobstructed and you stay in the room with them while they are sleeping to monitor them.
Ask for help
Having a newborn is hard. A long time ago, new moms were surrounded by help, usually from family members. Now, families spread apart and moms feel like they have to manage on their own. This leaves new moms exhausted and more likely to forgo safe sleep practices. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for help. Pay a babysitter if you can. You don't need to leave the house, just go to your bedroom and rest.
Share the load
When my second child was born, my husband went back to work after one week. Since he had to get up every morning and work all day, I felt the need to be up with the baby all night so he could be rested for work. It was a lot! Finally, he said, "You know I signed up for this parenting thing too. I can get up with the baby at night." It was such a relief. Even if you are breastfeeding, your partner can bring the baby to you and stay awake while you nurse to make sure baby ends up back in a safe sleep spot.
Do what is best for your family
New parents are flooded with information on how to be the best parent. It's overwhelming. Think about the benefits and risks associated with sleep/unsafe sleep and do what's best for your family. If you'd like to make safe sleep a priority but are struggling (for whatever reason) to implement, reach out to your pediatrician.