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The ABC's of Safe Sleep

Every year in the United States, more than 4,500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly. Experts agree that more than 50 percent of these deaths may have been prevented if the baby had been placed to sleep in a safe environment. With widespread awareness of the importance of safe sleep practices in caring for babies, we could literally save thousands of precious lives each year.

The safest place for your baby to sleep, for at least the first six months, is alone, on his or her back, in a safe crib placed near your bed. Breastfeeding and bonding are very important to your babyís health. It is okay to nurse your baby in bed, but when itís time to go to sleep, place your baby alongside your bed in his or her own separate space to protect against SIDS and accidents during sleep.

Remember the ABC's to Safe Sleep!

* Always place your baby on his or her back for sleep.

* Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.

* Remove all soft and loose bedding and other items from your babyís sleep area (pillows,††† comforters, quilts, stuffed animals, etc.)

* Consider using a wearable blanket or other type of sleeper instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.

* Make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep when visiting or traveling.

Today, research shows that using a pacifier every time you place your baby down to sleep can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.

Follow these simple steps for safe, effective pacifier use:

* Offer a pacifier at naptime and nighttime. This will give your baby the most protection against SIDS.

* Wait one month to offer a pacifier if you are breastfeeding. Be sure your baby is nursing well first - the risk of SIDS is very low during the first month.

* Never use a pacifier to replace nursing or feeding, Offer a pacifier after a feeding when you put your baby down to sleep.

* Donít worry about putting the pacifier back in your babyís mouth if it falls out. Babies that use a pacifier regularly are protected, even if it falls out after they fall asleep.

* Donít force your baby to take a pacifier. Continue trying over several weeks before giving up.

* Never coat your babyís pacifier with anything sweet. This could damage your babyís teeth.

* Donít use a string or anything else to attach a pacifier around your babyís neck or to clothing. This could choke your baby.

The information in this article was gathered from First Candle.†A organization helping Babies Survive & Thrive.

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