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Baby care 101

  • Always put your baby to sleep on her back.
  • Give your baby some tummy time when she's awake.
  • Respond quickly to your crying baby, but don't shake her.
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Co-sleeping means that babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. It’s sometimes called bed-sharing. You may like the idea of cuddling with your baby at bedtime. But co-sleeping may put your baby at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers, like suffocation. SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that babies should not co-sleep with anyone.

Why is co-sleeping risky?

During co-sleeping, a baby can be hurt by:

  • Getting trapped by the bed frame, headboard or footboard
  • Getting stuck between the bed and the wall, furniture or another object
  • Falling off the bed
  • Being smothered by pillows, blankets or quilts or from laying facedown on the bed
  • Having another person roll on top of him

How is SIDS related to co-sleeping?

About half of all SIDS deaths happen when a baby shares a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person. To lower your baby’s chances of SIDS, don’t co-sleep if:

  • Your baby is younger than 3 months of age.
  • Your partner or other children sleep in your bed.
  • You smoke, even if you don’t smoke in bed.
  • You’re very tired.
  • You’ve had alcohol, used street drugs or taken certain medicines, like antidepressants. These things can make it hard for you to wake up or respond to your baby.

Are co-sleepers safe?

Co-sleepers are baby beds or bassinettes that attach to your bed. To improve their safety, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is creating the first set of safety standards for co-sleepers. Companies that make co-sleepers must follow the safety standards starting July 2014. At this time, AAP doesn’t recommend using these products.

What other problems can co-sleeping cause?

Some parents don’t sleep well with a baby in their bed. Babies who co-sleep may have trouble falling asleep by themselves. This can be a problem at naptime or at night when parents aren’t yet in bed.

Where is the safest place for your baby to sleep?

The best place for your baby to sleep is in her bassinet or crib placed close to your bed. If you have multiples (twins, triplets or more), put each baby in her own bassinet or crib.

With your baby close by, you can easily feed her and check on her during the night. Bring your baby into your bed for breastfeeding or soothing. But put her back in her own bed before you fall asleep.

How can you keep your baby safe while she sleeps?
Use these tips to help keep your baby safe during sleep.

Last reviewed January 2014

See also: Putting your baby to sleep, Safe sleep for your baby, Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Why baby cries

  • She's hungry.
  • He has a dirty diaper.
  • She needs to be calmed.
  • He doesn’t feel well.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I soothe my baby if she has colic?

About 1 in 5 babies develops colic - usually between 1 and 4 months of age. They cry constantly, often extending or pulling up their legs or passing gas. Sometimes their tummies are enlarged with air and gas from crying. There's no one cause of colic, but there are many different ways to ease your baby's discomfort. One way is to walk her in a soft-sided baby carrier that you strap to the front of your body. You can also try laying her tummy-down across your knees and gently rubbing her back. The pressure against her tummy may relieve her discomfort. Breastfeeding moms can ask their baby's health care providers about a change in food choices or eliminating specific foods that may cause your baby's colic. Keep in mind that colic usually disappears by 4 months of age, no matter what treatments you try.

How should I take my baby’s temperature?

If your child is younger than 3 years, taking a rectal temperature gives the best reading. Here's how:

  • Clean the end of a digital thermometer with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Rinse it with cool water.
  • Put a small amount of petroleum jelly on the end.
  • Place your child belly down across your lap or on a firm surface. Put your palm against his lower back, just above his bottom. Or place your child face up and bend his legs to his chest. Rest your free hand against the back of the thighs.
  • With the other hand, turn the thermometer on and insert it 1/2 inch to 1 inch into the anal opening. Don’t insert it too far. Hold the thermometer in place loosely with two fingers, keeping your hand cupped around your child's bottom, until you hear the beep. Remove it and check reading.

What do I do if my baby is constipated?

Your baby's bowel moments depend on her age and eating habits. Every baby is different. Some babies have a bowel movement right after each feeding. Others have it only once a day. It also is normal that a breastfed baby (3 to 6 weeks of age) passes stools only once a week. Formula fed babies should pass stools at least once a day. If your baby is having irregular bowel movements but her stools are soft (no firmer than peanut butter), this isn't a sign of constipation. But if your baby's stools are firm, she seems fussy or cries when having a bowel movement, she might be constipated. Talk to your baby's health care provider.

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