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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Back to Sleep: A guide for safe sleep in babies under 1 year of age

Updated: Feb 6

As parents, ensuring our babies sleep soundly and safely is at the forefront of our minds. Creating a secure sleep environment for your little one is crucial for their well-being and your peace of mind. Let’s delve into some practical tips and advice to help your baby sleep safely.

Back to Basics: Back is Best. When it comes to safe sleep, the golden rule is: “Always Back to Sleep.” Placing your baby on their back for all naps and for night-time sleep is the safest position. This position reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and allows for better airflow.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die suddenly and unexpectedly than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. (The problem with the side position is that your baby can roll more easily onto their stomach.)

Some parents worry that babies will choke when they're on their backs, but in fact your baby's airway anatomy and their gag reflex will keep that from happening.

Once your baby is comfortable rolling both ways (back to tummy, tummy to back), then you don't need to keep turning them to their back again.


Create a Safe Sleep Space: Your baby’s sleep space should be simple and safe. Use a firm flat mattress with a fitted sheet and avoid soft bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, or crib bumpers. These items can pose suffocation hazards. A sleep sack or wearable blanket can keep your baby warm without the need for loose blankets. Don't use products that aren't specifically marketed to and meet safety standards for infant sleep, and if your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier or sling, you should move them to a firm sleep surface on their back as soon as possible.

Room Sharing for Safety: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing without bed sharing. Keep your baby's crib, bassinet, or sleep space in your room for the first six to twelve months. This closeness allows for easy monitoring and comforting while keeping your baby safe.

Temperature and Comfort: Maintain a comfortable room temperature for your baby's sleep environment, and dress your baby in light clothing suitable for the room temperature to prevent overheating. In general, look at the clothing you need to be comfortable in the sleep environment, and add one extra layer for your baby.

Avoid Smoking and Other Hazards: Keep your baby’s sleep area smoke-free. Avoid exposure to smoke during pregnancy and after birth. Additionally, ensure there are no cords or strings near the crib that could pose a strangulation risk.

Tummy Time During Wakeful Hours: While back sleeping is safest for naps and bedtime, providing supervised tummy time during the day helps your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles.

Stay Vigilant and Educated: Be aware of your baby's development and milestones. Stay updated on safe sleep practices and recommendations. Consult your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s sleep habits.

Trust Your Instincts: Every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts and find a sleep routine that works best for your family while prioritizing safety.

Remember, while ensuring your baby's safety during sleep is crucial, a little one’s sleep habits can vary. What's most important is creating a safe sleep environment and being present to comfort and care for your baby as needed.

Here’s to peaceful nights and safe sleep for both you and your little one!

Be well,


You Tube video on Safe Sleep Essentials:

Dr  Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article.

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