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From the experts: Safe sleep Q&A

The only thing that makes sleepless nights with your bundle of joy worse is having questions and not knowing where to get answers.

We know, we’ve been there!

Safe sleep is an important subject, so we’ve brought in Christine Lawler, baby sleep coach and founder of The Peaceful Sleeper, to shine some light on a few crucial topics.

Chrissy Lawler

Meet our expert

Christine Lawler

Baby sleep consultant, owner of The Peaceful Sleeper, and licensed Family Therapist.

What you need to know for safe sleeping

Q: What’s better: co-sleeping or putting baby in a crib?

A: Putting baby in her own private sleep space is always the safest option. 

  • A bassinet next to your bed is a good compromise, but adult beds are too squishy for babies, and loose blankets present another hazard. 
  • There’s also the risk you could roll over on baby or she could roll off the bed or get trapped between the mattress and the headboard.

Q: How about other sleep options like baby nests, bouncy seats, and swings?

A: There are so many products on the market to help babies fall asleep, but they’re not safe to sleep in, so if you choose to use one, make sure you’re moving baby to her crib after she drifts off. 

  • The same principle applies to positioners or loungers, which have soft, squishy sides that are too low to prevent the baby from rolling out. In those cases, it’s best to wrap your newborn in a nice, tight swaddle, rock her to sleep, then put her down in a crib or bassinet.

Q: Are crib bumpers okay? 

What about blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals?

A: Though stuffed animals and baby bed sets are cute and make a nursery feel cozy, they present a suffocation risk. Your little one’s sleep space should be free of anything other than a pacifier.

Q: I slept on my stomach as a baby. Now I read it’s better for babies to sleep on their backs, but I worry about choking. 

Which is right?

A: A lot has changed over the years as we research and learn more about sleep positioning. Though experts used to recommend that babies sleep on their tummies, we now know that back sleep reduces the risk of SIDS. There are a couple of exceptions:

  • If your baby has reflux and you worry about choking, you can turn the baby’s head to one side when you put her down, or prop the head of her crib at a slight incline
  • Once your baby can roll back to front and front to back on her own, you don’t need to worry about positioning as much; still, put her to sleep on her back, but rest easy if she flips

Q: Is swaddling safe?

A: Yes! Swaddling is so good for newborns

  • It mimics that snug feeling from the womb and prevents them from waking themselves up with flailing arms and jerky movements. 
  • Make sure you wrap baby nice and tight and have all tails and corners of the swaddle blanket tucked in so it doesn’t come loose when your little one squirms. Zip up swaddles like the Zen One make it easy to get a snug, safe fit every time. 

Q: Is it okay for me to feed my baby in my own bed in the middle of the night? 

What if I fall asleep?

A: Though nursing baby in bed is comfortable and convenient, falling asleep is a real risk. It’s better to hop out of bed, sit in a comfy chair, and do something like listening to a podcast or read a book until feeding time is over.

To learn more from Chrissy, follow The Peaceful Sleeper on Instagram and take 20% off everything on thepeacefulsleeper.com with code “nestedbean20” 

To learn more about safe sleep from the experts, check out these other articles on the Zen Blog: 

Safe Sleep: Baby Sleeping On Side or Stomach

ABC’s of safe sleep: reducing the risk of SIDS

When can I stop worrying about SIDS?

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Nursery Safety: Toddler Edition

Toddlers are climbing, running, mischievous little gymnasts who will try your patience every bit as much as they melt your heart. 

Every milestone is infused with a little bit of magic, but part of keeping up — and keeping them safe — is paying extra attention to toddler-proofing your nursery.

Maggie Moore - Moore Sleep

Meet our expert

Maggie Moore

Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Founder & Head Sleeper of Moore Sleep

Adjust the crib and keep it clear

As your toddler eats you out of house and home and shoots up to grand new heights, the possibility that they can hop right out of their crib grows by leaps and bounds, too. 

To minimize the chance of a slip and fall — and a heart attack when they appear at your bedside in the middle of the night — drop the toddler mattress to its lowest setting as soon as your baby can sit up. Once they’re about 35 inches tall, it’s time to consider transitioning to a toddler bed.

Although the risk of SIDS is no longer a concern beyond 12 months of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping crib bumpers, stuffed animals, and toys out of the crib. While they were a suffocation hazard for your newborn, they can now be used as a means to climb out of the crib by your little escape artist.  A small lovey is okay once your baby is 12 months, and a wearable blanket like the Zen Sack is still the best alternative to loose blankets. 

Secure furniture before your toddler starts imagining they’re about to summit Mount Everest

To parents, dresser drawers are convenient places to hide mountains of clothes and mismatched baby socks. To toddlers, they’re an invitation to climb up and pull down whatever’s handy. 

Tip-over injuries send one child to the emergency room every 30 minutes. To avoid being a statistic, buy anchor kits to hold big pieces of furniture (no matter how light or heavy) in place and strap systems to keep electronics like televisions from being pulled onto exploring kiddos.

Safeguard against electrical shock and cord hazards

Few things are more fun for a toddler than mimicking how mom and dad plug in stuff and then pulling the cord free again. While you’re probably not keeping your vacuum in the nursery, there is probably a humidifier, lamp and other electronic goodies that present a major temptation.

Wrap up cords using a cable management kit that pulls double-duty as an organizer and hiding spot, so your growing baby doesn’t mistake the cord for a chew toy. Outlet covers are another must; in addition to the old-school plug inserts, there are now power-strip covers and safety plates you can install, too.

Don’t forget about your window cords, either. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lists corded blinds as one of the top five hazards in your home. To prevent this serious risk, place cords on the middle ledge (where the lock is), out of your child’s reach—or replace with a cordless option. 

Choose comfy, soothing, safe sleepwear

It’s time to retire the swaddles that got you through the first six months of baby’s life and try PJs that allow for more mobility. The Zen Sack Classic™ keeps baby’s arms and legs cozy (no blankets required), with sizes up to 36 pounds and 24 months, while the Zen Footie™ and Zen Bodysuit are ideal for active sleepers and work equally well in the crib, car seat and stroller.

Close the door

While it’s never safe to lock a child in a room (or use a latch or other device to keep the door propped), keeping the door closed at night can help keep smoke and heat from spreading to your baby’s room in the event of a fire. 

According to the Close Before You Doze campaign, locking a door increases the amount of time it takes someone to escape from a fire, but simply closing the door can make a significant difference in how fast the fire spreads.