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Safe Sleep and Coping with Infant Crying

Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death among children under 1 year. Nearly three-quarters of suffocation deaths among infants are from accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. 

According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, children under the age of 1 represent nearly 100 percent of unsafe sleep fatalities in Florida, making unsafe sleep a leading cause of preventable infant death in our state.

Safe Sleep Module Video-NICU Golisano Children's Hospital SWFL

Help Your Baby Sleep Safely

  • Lay your baby on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • If you’re worried about keeping your baby warm on those cold winter nights, try using a sleep sack (wearable blanket). They’re pretty cozy.
  • Babies should not sleep on beds, sofas, recliners, chairs, soft surfaces, bouncy chairs or baby swings. If this happens, make sure to return your baby to a safe sleep environment.
  • We know that stuffed animals, bumpers and all those cute accessories make a baby’s crib seem warm and cozy. Unfortunately, they can often do more harm than good. Soft bedding can block a baby’s airway during sleep. A firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting crib sheet is all you need to make your baby sleep like a baby.
  • New parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
  • Ensure infant crib, bassinet, or portable crib / play yard conforms to recommended safety standards. 
  •  Only mattresses and fitted sheets designed for the mattress should be used so that there are no gaps between the mattress and the side of the bed. 
  • Toys, stuffed animals, quilts, pillows, bumper pads or loose bedding should not be used in the infant’s sleep environment. 
  • Avoid overheating and do not use head coverings. 
  •  Infants should not be placed for sleep on beds, couches, chairs, or waterbeds; nor should portable bed rails be used. 
  • Sitting devices such as car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers and slings are not recommended for routine sleep. If an infant falls asleep in a sitting device, they should be removed from the product and moved to a crib or other appropriate flat surface as soon as practical. 
  •  When infant slings and cloth carriers are used, ensure that the infant’s head is up and above the fabric, the face is visible and the nose and mouth are not against the adult’s body or sling. 
  •  Room sharing with the parents is recommended, but bed sharing is NOT recommended (including multiples). 
  • Infants should sleep in smoke-free environment that is free of hazards (cords, wires, etc.).

Child's Sleep Environment is Important

  • The environment can impact your overall sleep quality. Consider these tips to help improve you and your child’s sleep quality.
  • Temperature: Having your bedroom at a comfortable temperature can help improve your sleep. Babies and toddlers sleep best between 65 and 70° F. However, older children and adults benefit from a room temperature between 60 and 67°F.
  • Noise: The best sleep occurs when you are in a calm relaxing environment. Limit the amount of harsh noise that could be present in your environment.
  • Lights: Light, especially from phone screens can impact how you sleep. In the evenings and at bedtime limit your exposure to bright lights.
  • Use The Bed Only For Sleep: Spending time in bed while doing other activities can make it difficult to go to sleep when it is bedtime. Encourage your child and family to only be in bed when it is time to sleep.

How to Position Your Child's Crib or Bed

  • Avoid placing a crib, bed, high chair or playpen near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall-mounted decorative accessories with cords.
  • Do not hang anything on or above a baby’s crib on a string or cord.
  • Room-sharing is a safer option than having your baby sleep in bed with you. Place your baby’s crib, play yard or bassinet in your room for more convenient feeding and close contact.
  • Remember to always return your baby to his or her own crib when you’re ready to go back to sleep. This is tough sometimes because parents are often more tired than the babies, but it is much safer.

Make Sure Your Crib is Up to Date

  • Check that your crib meets safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), and make sure it has all the right pieces.
  • If you can fit a can of soda between the slats of a crib, that means a child’s head, hand or foot could get stuck.
  • If the sides go down, don’t use the crib.
  • Corner posts of the crib should not stick up more than one-sixteenth of an inch. It doesn’t seem like much, but anything more can be risky.
  • Check to make sure there are no design cutouts in the headboard or footboard.
  • If your crib doesn’t meet CPSC standards, don’t use it.
  • If you are getting a used crib, check to see if it has been recalled at

Establish A Bedtime Routine

  • Determine a Set Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and get up at the same time on weekdays and weekends. Keeping consistent will help ensure that you are getting adequate sleep each night.
  • Create a List of Activities that need to be completed before bed such as bathing, brushing teeth, reading a book, etc. Give yourself enough time to complete these activities before the time you need to go to bed.
  • Create a Visual Schedule: A visual schedule can be very helpful for your child when you start implementing a bedtime routine. A visual schedule will allow them to know what is expected of them and what is coming next. You can make it fun by having them put a sticker next to each task they complete. For infants, it may be helpful to create a schedule for yourself, so you know what things need to happen before bedtime.
  • Relax and Unwind: When our bodies and minds are calm it is easier to go to sleep. Incorporate calming or relaxing activities into your nightly routine. This could be journaling, listening to calm music, or deep breathing.

Coping with an Infant Crying

Normal Infant Crying

Increased infant crying is normal in the first 4-5 months and is not always an indication that there is something wrong with your baby. This is a normal behavioral developmental stage that all babies go through.

Increased crying begins in the first month, usually peaks in the second month and then decreases to a lower amount by 12-16 weeks. This normal, early crying is called the Period of PURPLE Crying.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe the crying that is typical of the first months of life in otherwise normal infants.

Period of PURPLE crying graphicNational Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome 

Ways to Soothe Your Crying Baby

When your baby cries, there are things you can try to soothe him. Check to see if he is hungry, tired or needs changing. Walk and sing with your baby. Give your baby a warm bath.

Take your baby for a walk or a ride in the car. Hold your baby close to you with skin-to-skin contact. In general, carry, comfort, walk and talk with your baby.

These ideas won’t work every time. You may be able to reduce your baby’s crying by about 50 percent, but soothing won’t work all the time. Remember, you can always check with your doctor to see if there is something wrong that is causing the crying.

When Crying is Frustrating

Crying is frustrating when your baby cries more than you expect; when you feel like you are a bad parent; when you think you cannot take care of your baby; or when your baby just won’t stop crying.

Feeling angry, upset, or frustrated is OK. It’s what you do with those feelings that matters.

When crying is frustrating, take a break from the crying and take care of yourself, too. It’s OK to put your baby down in a safe place, walk away, and take a break for 5-10 minutes before checking on your baby.

Also, be careful who you have care for your baby, especially in the first 5 months of life.

If others are caring for your baby, make sure to tell them how normal crying is and how frustrating it can be. Most importantly, make sure they know that it’s OK to put the baby down and to call you if it’s too frustrating, and you’ll come home.

Finally, remember to go back and review the Period of PURPLE Crying program booklet and app that you received after the birth of your new baby. This is a program of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Never Shake

Sometimes parents and caregivers get so frustrated and upset with infant crying that they lose control and without thinking, they shake or hurt the infant. NEVER SHAKE OR HURT AN INFANT.

Shaking a baby is very dangerous and can cause blindness, learning disabilities, seizures, physical disabilities, or even death.

For more general information about kids safety visit: