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Sleep is so important for healthy babies (and tired parents). They’ll spend a lot of their first year of life sleeping, which will strengthen their immune system and aid in their growth and development. Making sure your baby gets the sleep they need may mean drastic changes to your routine and obeying the cardinal rule: Never wake a sleeping baby.

But how your baby sleeps is just as important as how much they sleep. What do we mean? These tips can help you prepare a proper sleeping environment for your baby that is conducive to sleep as well as safe.

Where to Sleep
Your baby should never share your bed with you. This puts them at risk for suffocation from pillows or blankets or from you or your partner accidentally rolling on top of them. Your baby should sleep in their own crib or bassinet from day one. If you’re nervous about being separated from them, you can place them in a bassinet in your bedroom for the first few days or weeks to help you get used to it. While many parents do this for the first 6 months, others prefer the baby to have their own room from very early on. Obviously there are benefits and drawbacks. If the baby is in your room, it is easier to hear if they are wakeful and more convenient for night feeds. However, you (and your partner) will get less sleep. If you are both light sleepers, then putting baby in their own room either with a baby monitor, or having the doors all open is another possibility.

Once they’re in their room follow suggestions to keep them comfortable and snoozing:

  • Make sure the temperature isn’t too hot or cold
  • Use blackout shades or blinds so it stays dark
  • Turn on a humidifier to prevent the air from being too dry
  • Use a sound machine to add white noise to keep them calm

What to Sleep In
Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress that fits snug inside the crib — it should be the one the crib came with. Cover it with a tight-fitting sheet and nothing else. While there are lots of adorable add-ons for cribs these days, like bumpers, clip-on toys and tiny bedding, they just aren’t safe for babies until they’re more than one year old. They can accidentally suffocate or strangle themselves on anything left in the crib. Also make sure the crib is positioned away from any windows with cords, blinds or curtains that would hang down into it.

What to Wear for Sleep
Dressing your baby in the correct attire for sleep will also help keep them comfortable and safe. Choose breathable fabrics to prevent them from overheating or getting cold and in the correct size for a snug, not tight fit. Go for one-piece pajamas they can’t get out of or get tangled up in. Zippers are a great option. If you baby is under six months, swaddling can also help them feel comforted and stay in the proper position, which we’ll get to next.

How to Position Your Baby for Sleep
Once their room is ready, you need to put your baby into their crib or bassinet in the proper position. That’s flat on their back. Sure, they may roll and flip in their sleep as they get older, but until they’re strong enough to push themselves up, they need to be on their back for safety.

You do everything you can to keep your baby safe while he or she is awake. Make sure you take the same precautions while they’re sleeping. Follow these tips and you’ll be rewarded with a well rested baby who sleeps through the night, which means more rest for you after all!

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