Top tips for healthy, safe sleep for infants

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By: Island Fever Sisters

As parents know, when baby sleeps well, the whole family can sleep well. This week is Sleep Awareness Week (#7DAYS4BETTERSLEEP), an annual event designed to raise awareness for the health benefits of sleep and its importance to safety and productivity. Dr. Deena Blanchard of NYC's Premier Pediatrics and sleep expert for Newton, shares her tips for healthy, safe and best sleep for baby:

1. Safety first: Check to make sure your crib meets the CPSC safety requirements. Always put your baby on their back to sleep for both naps and night time. Never put your baby in a crib with bumpers, stuffed animals, pillows or blankets. Avoid over heating your baby. A comfortable and safe sleep temperature is between 68-72 degrees F.

2. A window of opportunity: Around 6-8 weeks of age infants will start to develop circadian rhythms. This is a great age to start a sleep routine. You can turn down the lights at night and create a personal bedtime routine that works for your family. Look for your babies sleep cues to help figure out when they are tired so you can put them to sleep drowsy but awake. Common sleep cues include, fussiness, eye rubbing, and ear or hair tugging. Often with babies, you have a "window of opportunity" to get your baby to sleep. If your baby misses this time period they can become overtired and difficult to settle.

3. Comfort matters: Making choices for the nursery is endless but one of the most important, and often overlooked decisions, is the actual crib mattress. Given babies spend almost 75 percent of their first year of life in their crib, comfort and safety go together. You want to look for a sturdy, yet breathable mattress. The Newton Wovenaire Crib Mattress is a great example as it offers no latex, no foam, no off gassing. This mattress is 100% breathable, and is washable – preventing harmful bacteria and mold which helps parents prevent infection. Even more the Wovenaire fibers allow air to circulate straight through keeping the babies temperature comfortable promoting a save and sound sleep.

4. Routine = Control: Start a consistent bedtime routine early on. As early as six weeks you can start to practice your bedtime routine. Practice makes perfect as the months go on. Bedtime routines are not a one size fits all topic. What works for one family may not work for another. Find a routine that fits your family lifestyle. For example, many people think a bath is a must in a nighttime routine. However, for many babies daily bathing can dry out their skin. If a bath doesn't work for your baby, don't fret, create other consistent night time activities for your little one to associate with sleep. They will start to know this means bedtime and relax into the routine. Try a massage with some Mustela oil, rock listening to a Dohm sound machine or even the CloudB range of sounds. Taking steps to bedtime will bring comfort, even control.

5. Day and Night: Teach your baby the difference between day and night. For the first six weeks of life babies sleep wake cycles are very confused. It's only around 6-8 weeks that babies start to develop a circadian rhythm. Turn down the lights and quiet the house in the evenings and at nap time. This will signal to your baby that it's time for sleep. Don't stimulate your baby during nighttime feedings. Keep the room dark and calm during those feedings.

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