Grandparents have a special place in the life of baby and the new parents. As the foundation of the support system, new parents often rely on the wisdom and knowledge you have from raising them. With this unique position, keeping up with how recommendations have changed since you were in their shoes can be a bit daunting, but it is important to ensure baby is safe. Sleep recommendations are often the most common area of concern, as these recommendations have changed and continue to be updated as new research is conducted.

Safe Sleep Space

If you’re helping parents by putting baby to bed, make sure to keep them safe by following these guidelines:

  • Put baby to bed on their back.
  • Ensure their sleep space is clutter-free.
  • Mattress should be firm with only a fitted sheet.
  • Swaddling is done only when they sleep alone.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or a recliner.

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SIDS and Safe Sleep

Did you know Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) wasn’t even recognized until 1969? From then on, the suggestions for preventative sleep measures have been updated regularly. Here’s some key changes over the last 30 years:

  • 1989: National Institute of Health recognized and defines SIDS.
  • 1992: National Institute of Health recommends laying babies on their backs to sleep.
  • 1997: Co-sleeping is no longer recommended.

If you were a parent before 1992, you received different recommendations for how to put baby to sleep. Make sure you’re using the most recent recommendations to keep baby safe.

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Safe Sleep Products

The cliche of grandparents spoiling their grandchildren is based in fact: who doesn’t love bringing a gift for the little one? Sleep products are common gifts, but it is important to ensure they support safe sleep.

Just because a product says it helps with safe sleep doesn’t mean it’s true. Most product descriptions are written by the company’s marketing department, not a doctor. Determining which products truly are safe can be confusing.

Here are some guidelines to use when looking for sleep products for baby.

  • Is it flat? A safe sleep environment should always be flat. Babies should not sleep in a reclining position.
  • Is it firm? Since babies don’t have the strength to roll over, the surface should be firm enough that they don’t sink into it and risk suffocation.
  • Are there loose parts to it or does it have a buckle? There should be no buckles, dangling parts, strings, or loose attachments.
  • Does everything fit together tightly? Slats on cribs should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (no wider than a soda can), sheets should be tight, and the mattress should not leave any space between the edges.
  • Does it say it promotes safe sleep? Remember there are no regulations or endorsements for safe sleep products. Just because the company claims it’s safe, does not make their claim true. 

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Grandparent Video

Watch this video for a discussion between HMHB-MT Executive Director Brie MacLaurin and DPHHS Indian Affairs Director, Karen Cantrell. These two experts share their professional, and personal, wisdom on how important grandparents are and the impact they have on baby’s life.

View the Video on YouTube