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baby fighting sleep - newborn sleep safety tips

Never Nap a Newborn in These Dangerous Situations

The newborn days can be rough. No one is getting consistent sleep, and everyone is just learning to get along. When your baby is fighting sleep, it can be very tempting to do just about anything to get them to close their tiny little eyes. But there are certain sleeping and napping situation you want to avoid at all costs.

So today, I want to share some of these dangerous napping situations and some safety tips for newborn sleep.

3 Dangerous Places to Nap a Newborn

There are so many rules about what you should and shouldn’t do with your newborn. But if you listen to any advice, sleep safety should be the priority! Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common {and potentially some of the most dangerous} nap arrangements for babies.





1. In the Car Seat

Yes, babies fall asleep in the car all the time. And that’s okay! The base of the newborn or infant car seat is positioned just right for your baby while IN THE CAR.

The biggest problem is when you remove the seat from the car with the baby still asleep OR if you put the baby in the car seat simply to help them nap.

Without the base and correct car positioning, the car seat can cause your baby to be in an unfit position for breathing properly. Airways can become compressed, which an be an extremely dangerous situation.

2. In a Makeshift Crib Made Out of Pillows

Babies can fall asleep just about anywhere. So if your newborn falls asleep on a bed or couch, you may be very tempted to set up a pillow fort barrier and get some things done.

But surrounding your baby with pillows can be so dangerous!

It doesn’t take much to block your baby’s airways, and pillows can easily lead to suffocation if your baby rolls into them or if they fall over on top of the baby.

It’s best to just wait out the nap or try moving the baby to the safety of their own crib.

3. In a Crowded Crib

Newborns are safest in an empty crib. Yes, those matching fluffy bumpers and pillows are adorable, but they are NOT safe for your baby.

Your baby should sleep {and nap} in a crib free of any stuffed animals, pillows, or heavy blankets. A light, breathable muslin or swaddle blanket is fine.

Sleep sacks that zip up are very helpful during winter months or in a cooler nursery if you feel your baby needs an extra layer.

Nursery Safety Tips for Newborns

While we’re talking about unsafe sleep and nap situations, let’s look at what we actually recommend for a safe sleep environment for your new bundle of joy!

1. Back to Sleep

Parents underestimate the importance of placing their child on their back to go to sleep. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a very real and tragic event that occurs in newborns.

Losing a child to SIDS is a horrifying event for a parent, made worse by the fact that there is no known cause that can explain why a baby dies for no apparent reason.

Placing your child to sleep on their back significantly reduces the chance of a fatal event.

2. Crib Safety Guidelines

Newborns sleep an average of 16 hours per day, so it is imperative that their sleeping environment is safe.

  • The sides of the crib must be fixed.

Drop-side cribs pose a serious threat to children as they collapse and can resultĀ in injury and even death.

  • It is best not to have knobs or posts on the corners of the crib as blankets could get caught and result in a strangulation risk.
  • There must be no more than 2 and 3/8 inches between crib slats.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no bed bumpers, dolls, pillows, toys, or sleep positioners in the crib while the baby sleeps.

It’s worth mentioning this one again.

Many parents question me about the newest recommendations of removing bed bumpers from cribs. There is a valid concern that if bed bumpers are removed, there is an increased risk of babies suffering an injured limb.

Although we haven’t seen a huge increase in the number of crib injuries since the recommendation was released, the risk does exist. However, the minor bumps and bruises that may occur are injuries that are relatively easy to treat.

Unfortunately the suffocation or strangulation risk from the ties and cushions of bed bumpers are usually fatal. Breathable bed bumpers are a great way to help lessen the risk of limb injuries.

  • Make sure no more than two fingers of space is between the side of the mattress and the crib frame.

It is very important that the mattress is firm and fits well in the crib to prevent entrapment and strangulation risks.

3. Furniture and Organization

Furniture safety is something to keep in mind when planning your nursery, even before your baby is crawling around. Crush injuries can be very serious and possibly fatal. Always anchor all furniture to the ground or wall.

Starting this process before your baby can actually get around is helpful – consider anchoring the furniture as you’re setting up your nursery for your newborn!

As toddlers start to explore and become more independent, they love to climb on furniture. It is important to eliminate the possibility of the furniture piece falling onto them.

When picking organizational boxes for your nursery, find soft ones made of burlap instead of wood or metal. If your child grabs and pulls them down, the chance of injury is less with softer baskets.

Final Thoughts on Helping a Baby Fighting Sleep

When your baby is fighting sleep, it can definitely be tempting to resort to anything to help your baby {and you!} get that much needed rest. But dangerous sleep situations are a NO-NO in my book.

The newborn stage is such a short period of time. It will be over before you know it, and everyone will be sleeping soundly – and safely!

~Dr. Katie

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