For babies and young children, high quality sleep is crucial for development and overall health. By adopting good, safe sleep habits early, the entire family can get the rest needed to thrive.
“I’ve heard it quoted that anyone who says they ‘sleep like a baby’ has never been a parent! Ask most parents and one of their top priorities is for both kids and parents to get more sleep,” says Dr. Deena Blanchard, a partner at Premier Pediatrics in NYC.
However, any sleep children do get should be as safe as possible, as sleeping presents hazards just like any other activity. With that in mind, Blanchard is offering parents great tips for helping young ones sleep soundly and safely.
• At around six to eight weeks of age, infants start to develop circadian rhythms. At this point, create a consistent routine before bedtime, such as dimming lights. Your baby will start to pick up on these habits as sleep cues.
• For safety, the crib should be free of bumpers, blankets, pillows, wedges and stuffed animals.
• Sleep safety evolves as your child develops, so consider developmental milestones. Once your little one rolls over, make sure that she is no longer swaddled. It’s always best to put your baby on her back to sleep, but once your baby rolls over, it’s not necessary to go into the room and flip her onto her back. Likewise, when your child starts to pull to stand, make sure the crib mattress is adjusted to the lowest level and there are no nearby items that she can pull into the crib.
• Go green. Choose paint, furniture and a baby mattress for your child’s bedroom that are free of harmful chemicals. Read labels carefully. Conventional and even organic mattresses typically have waterproof covers that contain PVCs that children breathe in all night. However, a mattress made from fibers woven to create air pockets offers maximum breathability.
For example, the Newton Wovenaire Crib Mattress, does not emit chemicals, and is a safe option that does not compromise comfort. Its breathable design prevents overheating and in an independent scientific study, the mattress demonstrated significantly lower suffocation risk as compared to other crib mattresses. More information can be found at www.newton.rest.
• Children tend to make a mess. Keep bedding clean and avoid build-up of bacteria or mold. Wash linens regularly and seek out a washable mattress.
“One of the most important things I`ve learned as a parent is that there are many things you don’t have control over,” says Dr. Blanchard. “However, creating a safe and comfortable sleep space is something you can control, and doing so can help your whole family sleep more soundly.”