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Tips to help your infant sleep safe on vacation

Bed-sharing is not a solution away from home.

Article Author: Vikki Mioduszewski

Article Date:

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For many of us during the holiday season, it’s to grandmother’s house we go. And for young families, that can also mean with an infant in tow.

If a crib isn’t waiting for your baby at your holiday destination, parents could be tempted to share a bed instead. It’s something the American Academy of Pediatrics and Safe Kids Northeast Florida warn against. Guidelines say that, until one year of age, children should sleep:

  1. Alone
  2. On their backs, and
  3. Near a parent, but in a separate safe sleep environment, like a crib or bassinet.

The reality is that parents do sometimes bed-share with their babies, said Cindy Dennis, RN, with Safe Kids Northeast Florida, led by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve asked mothers why, and they’ve said it just seems like it would be safe and secure to have their baby with them,” Dennis said.

The practice is especially common among nursing mothers, desperate to soothe their babies and to get a good night’s sleep for themselves.

Beds are not safe places for a sleeping infant. Babies can get tangled in a blanket, suffocate from an adult rolling on top of them, fall off the bed, or get wedged between a bed and headboard or wall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2016 study ranked bed-sharing accidents as one of the top three causes of sleep-related infant deaths. 

There’s an easy solution on vacation, said Dennis. Bring a Pack ‘N Play portable bassinet with you. It’s designed for safe sleep.

7 ways to keep your baby safe when sleeping away from home

  1. Don’t use that old crib grandma saved from when you were a baby. They don’t meet current safety standards. Extended corner posts, decorative cutouts on headboards, and slats spaced more than 2 3/8 inches apart all present strangulation risks. Drop-sided cribs are no longer considered safe.
  2. Do place your baby on a firm mattress with well-fitted sheets.
  3. Don’t place loose materials in your baby’s sleep space: no blankets, no stuffed animals, and no Christmas presents.
  4. Do use a sleep sack to keep your baby warm instead of bedding. This is a special zipped garment that looks like a sleeper at the top, but fans out into a closed sack at the bottom, like a tiny wearable sleeping bag.
  5. Don’t let your baby sleep in any product not made for routine sleep, such as a rocker, bouncer, swing, or car seat outside the car. Always read product owner’s manual for warnings.
  6. Do supervise your sleeping baby on long road trips, and stop and take her out of her car seat every few hours.
  7. Don’t let your baby share a bed with another child or a pet. The risks are the same as bed-sharing with a parent.

For more safe sleep tips, visit wolfsonchildrens.com/sleep.

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