Travel is synonymous with the holiday season as families, especially those separated by miles, get together each year to celebrate and spend time with one another.

For those families who have babies, traveling can be somewhat of a chore. Packing plenty of clothing, diapers, formula and bottles, and that pacifier that if you forget, can change a ho ho ho into a no-no-no.

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the trip leaves mom and dad exhausted just wanting to crash when they get to their destination, knowing holidays with small children will bring both joy and stress. It is important, however, while planning for your trip to make an easier transition, it is also extremely important to come up with a plan of where your baby will sleep when you get there.

If you have an infant, there are specific guidelines, according to several studies, where the safest place is for your little one to lay their head. The days when putting your infant on their stomach in a bed filled with blankets and pillows are gone. Statistics have proven that letting your baby sleep with anything in their crib can lead to death. Also, sleeping with your baby is NOT a good idea. Many deaths occur from this practice that could be avoided by putting your baby in the proper sleeping area.

This is why the Child Fatality Team of Logan County is releasing statistics and instruction during the holiday season to help parents understand that if you travel, it is imperative to follow the same rules you should be following at home and assuring a safe sleeping area for your babies.

Mary Givens has been serving on the Child Fatality Team of Logan County since becoming coroner. She is now the chairman of the team who meets throughout the year to keep records of unnatural deaths involving those under the age of 18 in our community.

“We try very hard to supply the public with the information they need to better help them keep their children safe,” said Givens. This can include automobile accidents, suicide prevention, drug abuse, etc.

Also serving on the Child Fatality Team is a member of the Emergency Medical Services, fire department, law enforcement, Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, School Systems, Department of Community Based Services, and health department.

Safe-Sleeping Dos

Take these steps to ensure a safe sleeping environment for your little one:

Check that your baby’s crib meets the latest safety standards. Brand new cribs purchased in the U.S. should meet all applicable standards. For example, cribs must not have a drop-side rail, which, when lowered, can lead to your baby falling out. Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart so your baby’s head can’t become trapped between them. Headboards and footboards should not have any cutouts, which could also entrap your baby’s head. The corner posts should be flush with the end panels so loose clothing on your baby can’t get snagged and pose a choking hazard.

Place your baby on their back to sleep. Do this at both nap time and bedtime. It’s the safest position for newborns, who don’t have the ability to reposition themselves or roll over. As a general rule, your baby should be placed on his back for sleeping until his first birthday. Any other position risks choking and/or suffocation and increases the risk of SIDS. Even if your baby has acid reflux, he should still be sleeping on his back. If you notice your baby has rolled over in his sleep, just place him back on his back. If your baby has learned how to roll onto his stomach and back again on his own, then you don’t have to worry about repositioning him onto his back. Of course, if you’re unsure about what’s safest for your baby, check in with your baby’s healthcare provider.

Let your baby sleep in your room for six months to one year. NOT IN BED WITH YOU. Having your baby in your room (but sleeping in his own bassinet, cradle, or crib) is recommended because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. It is also much safer than bed-sharing. With this setup, it can also be a lot easier for you to observe, feed, and comfort your baby through the night.

Use a firm sleep surface. Make sure your baby sleeps on a firm, tight-fitting mattress that meets the latest safety standards. Cover it in a tightly fitted sheet that doesn’t bunch up or come loose.

Keep your baby’s crib bare. Keep the crib free of things like loose bedding, pillows, quilts, blankets, comforters, bumper pads, and toys. Any of these objects can cause accidental suffocation. Experts agree that after 12 months of age it’s okay to introduce some objects to the crib.

Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This can help reduce the risk of SIDS, even if the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth at some point. If you’re breastfeeding, wait two to three weeks before offering your baby a pacifier. If you’re not breastfeeding, you can start offering a pacifier at any time. Make sure not to use a pacifier that attaches to your baby’s clothes or to a toy via a string as this could pose a suffocation or choking hazard.

Lower the mattress when your baby can stand. You can prevent falls by lowering the crib mattress level as your baby grows so he won’t be able to climb over the rails and get out. Set it in the lowest setting before your baby knows how to stand.

Safe-Sleeping Don’ts

The following should be avoided when it comes to ensuring your baby sleeps safely:

Don’t co-sleep. Your baby is at a much higher risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation if they sleep in bed with you. You could accidentally roll over onto your baby while you sleep, or your baby could get entangled in the sheets or blankets. Sleeping in your bed also increases the risk that they will roll out of the bed during the night. Let them sleep in your room, but put them to sleep in their own crib.

Don’t have your baby sleep in anything other than a crib, bassinet, or cradle. Never put your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair. These can be dangerous because your baby could roll off, get stuck in a gap, or suffocate on a pillow, for example. Don’t let them sleep in a carrier, sling, car seat, or stroller. If they do fall asleep in any of these, move them to a crib as soon as possible. If you’re breastfeeding in bed, make sure to remove pillows, blankets, and any other bedding in case you fall asleep. As soon as you wake up, return your baby to their crib.

Don’t allow your baby to become overheated. Make sure to keep your baby’s room (or your room) at a comfortable temperature. Dress your baby in no more than one extra layer than you would wear. Signs they may be too hot include if they start sweating or if their chest feels hot to the touch.

Don’t have any cords or devices within your baby’s reach. Don’t place your baby’s crib near the cord of a wired baby monitor or cords of window coverings, for example. Also, if you have a mobile, be sure to mount it out of your baby’s reach.

Don’t use a crib that is broken or has missing parts. Check that your crib meets the latest safety standards. Periodically check the crib for loose hardware, cracks, or splinters.

Don’t smoke or expose your baby to smoke. Keep your home smoke-free. Smoke can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS.

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