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Safe and Healthy Sleep Habits for Babies

Most new parents can be surprised that newborns sleep about 17 hours a day, but it’s true! Sleep, in fact, is important for both parents and baby.

To help your baby learn how to fall asleep, start a regular, comforting routine of putting them to bed. If you're a new mom, you might be tempted to catch up on chores, work or other responsibilities while the baby sleeps. Don't. Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby.

When putting baby down for a nap or for the night, keep them safe by following these sleep habits:

  • Always place your baby on their back for naps and sleep. Babies sleeping on their sides or stomach are at a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is the sudden death of a baby younger than 1 that cannot be explained. It is also known as “crib” or “cot death” because it happens during sleep. 
  • Avoid over-dressing your baby for sleep.
  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Avoid putting your baby's crib in a smoky area.
  • Avoid any extra items in your baby's crib, including toys, fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads and wedges.

After four months, babies' sleep habits can change by sleeping longer through the night, with a couple of naps during the day.

And after their first birthday, your toddler's sleep patterns will continue to shorten. At 1–2 years of age they will require 11–14 hours of sleep each night.

You should keep a daily sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Set limits and make sure your child knows them because you routinely enforce the limits. If getting to sleep is tough, try using a security object, like a favorite blanket.

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