Baby Sleep | Fit Pregnancy

Baby Sleep

Safe Sleep

As nighttime temperatures plunge, you might be tempted to crank up the thermostat and bundle your baby in blankets. Your intentions are good, but keeping her too warm may put her at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which peaks in winter and strikes most often between ages 2 and 4 months. Instead, keep the room temperature at 68° F to 72° F and follow these sleep-safety tips from Baltimore's First Candle/SIDS Alliance:

Easing baby into his crib

Easing-baby-into-his-crib

I recommend a very gentle approach. Start by nursing your son for a shorter time in his own room and soothing him to sleep by patting and rubbing him through the bars of the crib. Do this for a few nights; for another few evenings, soothe him to sleep with no nursing. Finally, spend several nights talking to him until he falls asleep, with no rubbing or patting. I don't pretend this is a "no-cry" solution, but your baby's distress will be mitigated by your or your husband's presence. For more information, visit drjaygordon.com/development/ap/sleep.asp.

Moms' Knowledge Lowers SIDS Risk

Rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have plunged recently because more parents are placing babies on their backs to sleep, as recommended by government experts. But babies born to educated mothers have experienced the greatest reductions in risk--suggesting the public-health "back-to-sleep" campaign hasn't reached everyone. It's possible that some mothers haven't heard the advice, don't follow it or have other SIDS risk factors, such as smoking or using soft bedding, says study author Kate E. Pickett, Ph.D., of the University of York in England.

Preventing Flat Head

The "Safe to Sleep" campaign led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in collaboration with other organizations has led to a 40 percent drop in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates since 1994. However, a not-so-pretty side effect is a 50-fold increase in the number of babies with flattened heads, or positional plagiocephaly.

Docs Debate Pacifier Use

While pacifiers can soothe fussy babies, the plastic gadgets also have been linked with lower rates of breastfeeding and higher risk for ear infection. But now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has weighed in, recommending pacifiers to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life.

Sleep Strategies for Both of You

Without being militant, there are ways to encourage good sleep habits right from the start, says Chicago pediatrician Marc Weissbluth, M.D., author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Random House, 2005). His suggestions:

First few days home Your baby will be very sleepy. Try not to stay up gazing at him as he snoozes--you may be able to handle it now, but you'll soon regret racking up sleep debt.

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