Is Your Child’s Bedroom Safe and Cozy?

Is Your Child’s Bedroom Safe and Cozy?
  • Small children should not sleep alone without supervision as there is greater risk of accidents or even death from their sleep environment.  
  • Parents should wait until a child is one year old before giving them a separate bedroom.
  • Decorating your child’s bedroom with things that they like will help them get excited about sleeping alone and prevent worry or separation anxiety.

For families expecting to welcome a new member into their life, creating a warm and cozy home, bed, and bedroom for your baby is an important aspect of the preparations. But do you know just how important your baby’s bed and bedroom are? The sad reality is that, especially for newborns and babies within their first year, unsafe bedding and bedroom conditions can actually be life-threatening.

Bedding Preparations for Babies

Worldwide statistics show a high rate of sleep-related infant mortality during the first six months of a baby’s life. In the USA, for example, approximately 3,500 infants die annually from sleep-related incidents, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, or strangulation in bed.
In order to prevent such tragic accidents from occurring, I’d like to provide parents and caregivers with some tips on appropriate sleep positions and bedding for infants.

  • Firstly, when it comes to sleep positioning, throughout the first year of their lives, babies should not be placed on their stomach or side but should always be placed on their back for all sleep times—naps and at night—in accordance with the longstanding “Back to Sleep” guidelines. 
  • Second, the baby’s mattress should be firm, not soft or movable, and should have fitted sheets and covers that are smooth and tight, and that will not easily come loose or obstruct the baby’s nose or mouth. No toys, pillows, or other soft or loose objects should be allowed in an infant’s bed or sleep area, and you should absolutely never allow a baby to sleep on a sofa or armchair with a cushioned backrest, as there is risk the baby can slide down and become wedged between the backrest and seat cushions. 
  • Third, babies should have their own separate bed or sleep surface, but should be in the same room as an adult at least until the age of 6 months to 1 year old. After this age, a separate bedroom can be considered.
  • Fourth, no matter how tired you may be, infants should not sleep in the same bed as parents or caregivers, as accidents are frequently reported in which an adult falls asleep and rolls over onto the child, causing entrapment or suffocation.

In addition to the above, it has also been found that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, while smoking, alcohol, and other forms of substance abuse in the home can increase the risk of SIDS.

Preparing a Separate Room for Your Child

After a child’s first year, parents may start thinking about whether or not to begin the process of teaching the child to sleep in a separate room. There are, at present, no specific recommendations on exactly when the best time is for a child to have their own room, as this depends greatly on the differing cultures and lifestyles of various races and societies. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended waiting until after the first year of a child’s life. This does not mean that every child should have a separate bedroom as soon as they reach one year of age, as the appropriate timing depends on the parents themselves and how ready the little one is, as well as other matters of convenience in the home and whether there is enough space for the child to have their own room, etc.

If possible, it’s recommended that parents provide a separate room for your child at least before they start school, as there are disadvantages to room-sharing, and especially bed-sharing. Both children and adults may not sleep very soundly when they share the same bed, resulting in insufficient rest, which can then affect the child’s performance and concentration in school, the parents’ work performance and mental health, as well as issues with a lack of privacy for the parents.

Techniques and Tips for Helping a Child Transition to a Separate Bedroom

There are a number of tips or methods that can help make a room move smoother and easier. These include:

  1. Prepare your child by helping them get excited about having their own room. Talk about all the great things they have to look forward to—their own special bed, letting them choose their favorite patterns for sheets and bedding, etc. Do not, however, place a television, computer, or other electronic devices in the room, as these cause poor sleep quality.
  2. In the beginning stages, help the child transition by being in the room with them for a short time as they are going to sleep—read or tell a bedtime story to soothe and relax them, and wait until they are asleep before leaving the room. Once a child is more used to being in their own room, you can gradually lessen this until they are able to fall asleep on their own without the presence of an adult.
  3. If a child has difficulty falling asleep or is worried about sleeping without an adult, giving the child a favorite doll, stuffed animal, pillow, or blanket to cuddle can help reduce anxiety. 
  4. In closing, I wish you and your little ones successful transitioning to separate sleep and room conditions.



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