There's a lot about parenting that comes instinctually. And in most cases, we're the first to tell you to ignore the “expert" advice of Aunt Betty and Cousin Amy and your mail carrier. After all, you know what's best for your baby. But, when it comes to sleep safety, there's no room for “winging it." In fact, there's just one way get baby to sleep: safely. That doesn't mean there aren't tons of opinions out there, and some of them pretty bogus. We asked our favorite Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist Carolina Romanyuk to help us clear through the baby sleep safety clutter.
From organic mattresses to tummy time, here's 5 common baby sleep safety myths, busted.
Myth 1: Baby will sleep better in my bed with me.
Fact: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highly emphasizes that bed sharing is a big no-no with newborns and infants, mainly because of the high SIDS risk possibility. Infants should sleep on surfaces designed for infants--a firm crib mattress and fitted sheet, with nothing else in the crib. Still thinking of bringing baby into your bed? Try a co-sleeper until you're ready to move your little one into his own crib.
Myth 2: It's no big deal to sleep baby on his tummy, they've been sleeping that way for hundreds of years.
Fact: Back in the early 90's the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development launched the “Back to Sleep" campaign that was heavily promoted by the AAP. The campaign focuses on educating parents that placing their child to sleep on their back is the safest way to sleep. Till this day it is enforced because it has significantly reduced the death rates among infants in SIDS-related cases. We're all for tummy time, but only when baby is awake and being watched.
Myth 3: As long as I use an organic crib sheet, it doesn't matter if my crib mattress is organic.
Fact: Parents should now more than ever be looking into organic and healthier versions of everything, from the food we feed to our babies, to the clothes they wear, to the mattresses they sleep on--for approximately 16-18 hours a day! Having a healthy sleep environment is crucial for achieving sleep success, and one of the most important pieces in your baby's life for their early years is the crib mattress. Find an organic crib mattress, like this one from Greenbuds, which uses only all natural and organic materials and is free from pesticides, chemicals or other harmful synthetic substances. Removable and washable covers are a great benefit, and eliminate the need for synthetic waterproof barriers.
Here's some other guidelines for choosing a healthy mattress:
Firmness. Choose a firm surface. A soft sleeping surface can be a suffocation hazard and raise the risk of SIDS. Worried your toddler-to-be won't like that firm surface? Try a dual-sided mattress (Greenbuds uses coconut coir and a layer of natural latex for extreme firmness on the infant side) and turn it to the cushy side when your babe is a bit older.
Wool or cotton? Organic wool has inherent flame retardant properties, eliminating the need for any flame-retardant treatments, including the most common flame retardants found in standard mattresses, PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). These flame retardants can release toxic gases and other substances that could harm babies. Cotton can be treated for fire safety too--Greenbuds, for example, treats its cotton covers with a form of boiron, which is a naturally derived mineral that acts as a fire retardant in a completely non-toxic format.
Size of the mattress. It should fit snug in the crib, with a 2-finger max between the crib rail and the mattress.
Mattress Pad. We don't blame you if you want to add a little protection for those midnight accidents. Choose an organic mattress pad that's fitted, with elastic edges so it's super-snug around the mattress. Greenbuds makes a mattress protector that is completely organic, which can be used with their own line or added to any type of crib mattress.
Myth 4 : SIDS doesn't happen anymore. And it especially doesn't happen to people like me.
Fact: SIDs is very real and isn't race-, economic- or gender-specific. While the cause theories on SIDS range from genetic/brainstem abnormalities or some other form of early developmental situation to environmental factors (ex: smoke, overheating,etc.), there are ways to reduce your baby's risk. Create a safe sleep environment and urge your childcare provider to do the same, using these tips:
1. Make sure there's no wires or baby monitor cords in the crib.
2. Choose a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib so there is no movement.
3. Use only a fitted sheet.
4. There should be no loose blankets or toys in the crib.
5. Dress the baby as you would dress yourself with an extra layer. Remember, if you swaddle, that swaddle IS one extra layer. A good temperature is anywhere between 68 – 72 degrees, and consistency is key, especially when baby will be sleeping in a new environment (such as daycare). A wool mattress can also help to regulate body temperature which makes for a safer and more comfortable sleeping environment.
6. Baby should sleep in a smoke-free environment.
Myth 5: Baby can't move around anyway, so it's totally fine to use that really gorgeous bumper that came with my set.
FACT: Babies move all the time, even when they're swaddled. You place them on an area of the crib and they end up on the other side. Babies are known to scoot, shimmy and, once they have access to their hands...oh boy, nothing is stopping them. While bumpers were originally created to keep the baby warm in the crib, they are now banned by the AAP. We know they are super pretty, but toss them away. They're a hazard. Concerned baby's cute little arms or legs will get stuck in the crib slats? Keep removing them from between the slats and eventually your child will stop, or invest in breathable bumpers made from a mesh material.
This post was brought to you by Greenbuds. Want to win your own Greenbuds organic mattress and mattress pad? Enter here! Plus, WRNY readers get a free organic sheet ($30 value) when purchasing a mattress! (Use code FREESHEET. Valid through June 9)