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Becoming a parent is a joyous and exciting time but it is not without its struggles. New parents have to deal with stress and anxieties as they learn to care for and keep their baby safe. Sleep is high on the list of priorities and worries for all new parents, with good cause. Every year more than 1000 fatalities of babies under 12 months old occur in the U.S. due to suffocation. These deaths are completely preventable.
In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new set of safe sleep guidelines. These recommendations are often repeated to new parents at well checks and referenced in new parent guidelines . In order to keep baby safe while sleeping, the AAP recommends lying baby back down on a firm sleeping surface like a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. The crib should be free of blankets, soft toys, bumper pads, and pillows. Room sharing is recommended for at least the first six months as that reduces the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. Bed sharing is not recommended.
The importance of sleep for baby and parents cannot be understated. Inadequate sleep impacts our ability to think clearly, cope with stress and problems, and process new information. As a new parent, clear thinking and access to coping mechanisms are critical to your well being and that of your baby.
Sleep impacts nearly every facet of a baby’s growth and development. Ronald Dahl, MD of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted research that argued that sleep is among the three fundamental requirements for healthy growth and development. Downloading and processing information gathered while awake, restoring the physical body, creation of new neural connections--all of this and more happens while baby is sleeping.
Understanding that the entire family needs good sleep is one thing. Setting the family up to actually accomplish this is another. New parents are always advised to sleep when the baby sleeps . This is easier said than done when new parents are compelled to check on their little one to ensure they are safe and well. Babies find it difficult to settle down and sleep in a bare bed with nothing comfy and cozy to cuddle. Using a baby sleeping bag is one way to provide your baby with the comfort and warmth he needs in a safe way that allows parents to rest easy as well. Available in different weights for the seasons, baby sleeping bags can be used year round in place of a blanket.
Becoming a parent is an exciting but overwhelming time compounded by irregular and fragmented sleep. There are options available that meet safety guidelines and reduce sleep-related anxieties for new parents.
This article was written by Jennifer Dawson.
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