By Levon Mesropyan, MD, FAACP
As a pediatrician, I hear a lot from parents about their concerns and questions on children’s sleep safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 babies die each year from sleep-related causes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Here are a few simple steps you can take to keep your infants and toddlers safe at night.
The most important thing during the first year of life is to have babies sleep on their back in their own safe space, whether in a bassinet, crib or Pack N’ Play that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. The mattress should fully fit the sleeping space and be covered with a tightly fitted sheet without any pillows, blankets, bumper pads or toys. Babies can share a room with their parents for the first six-to-12 months, but should never sleep with them in bed.
As children grow into more mobile toddlers, safety issues evolve. When children are able to stand and potentially climb out of the bed, which can happen anywhere from 18 months to 3 years of age, they should transition to toddler beds. Cribs and beds should be placed away from windows, lamps or other items that can fall and hurt the child. There should be no hanging curtains or wires near the bed.
Once a child can walk, furniture that can be pulled over should be secured to the wall and sharp corners covered. If there are stairs in the house, they should be blocked by gates at the top and bottom.
Sleeping soundly is important for growing children and for the adults who care for them. By taking these simple steps, parents can rest a bit easier.
Dr. Levon Mesropyan is a pediatrician who practices at UCLA Health in Burbank, 2625 W. Alameda Ave., Suite 300. For appointments call: 818-846-8252. For more information visit uclahealth.org.