Sleep safety and sleep training are not necessarily two terms that are thought of as synonymous with one another. As founder of Baby Sleep Trainer sleep coaching services, I make the safety of each of the babies I work with paramount. My interest in sleep safety started when I had my first child 10 years ago. Like nearly every new mother, I obsessively checked on my baby day and night to make sure she was still breathing. I would wake up from deep sleep in a panic, certain that something had happened while I was asleep. Thankfully, she and I made it through the first year of her life unscathed, and in my quest to help make sure she was okay at night, I went to every possible extent to ensure she was never at risk while sleeping in her crib.
Thankfully, keeping a baby safe while sleeping is truly simple. Mainly, parents should always ensure their child exclusively sleeps on their back in a fully empty crib, with no bumpers, blankets, toys, or sleep positioners present inside the crib. To make it easy, I like to use the initialism ABC – Alone, Back, Crib. Babies should always be put down alone on their back in their crib.
In addition to following the ABCs of safe sleep, I also always remind families to mount their video monitor cameras to the wall or another piece of furniture, and to never have it on the ledge of the crib, so as to not risk the camera accidentally falling into the crib and creating a serious hazard to a curious baby. Another bonus of not having anything in a baby’s crib other than them, their clothes, and possibly a sleep sack, is that they tend to be much better sleepers overall. Not only are objects like sleep positioners and blankets risky to infants while they sleep, but they can also cause a child to become reliant on them in order to sleep.
Many families don’t realize that “sleep training” a child essentially just means training them to go down alone and awake, flat on their back in a totally empty crib, and be able to go from that state to asleep, without the assistance of a parent, caregiver, or other objects like a swaddle or sleep positioner. By necessity, properly sleep training a baby involves them only sleeping in a truly safe sleep environment. Humans wake regularly throughout the night as they transition from one sleep cycle to the next (so a baby waking every hour or two throughout the night is natural and normal), and in order for a baby to be able to connect sleep cycles without the assistance of a parent or other potentially unsafe object, they must first know how to fall asleep wholly independently for naps and at bedtime. In this way following the basics of sleep safety, including a completely empty crib with a totally flat mattress, promotes extremely healthy sleep habits in children of all ages.