Baby Sleep Safety: 9 Expert Tips For New And Expecting Parents

Picture of Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

Medically reviewed by Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

tips for safe sleep

As a parent, your baby’s safety, comfort, and happiness are always on your mind. During the day, you feed them, burp them, cuddle them, and change their diaper — just to name a few of your parenting responsibilities. And then there’s safe sleep.

What does it mean to look out for your little one’s well-being while they’re sleeping?

In this article, the experts at Newton Baby tell you how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby so both of you can rest easy and sleep well.

We’ve got nine safe sleep tips that you can put into practice right away, whether you’re a brand-new parent or still awaiting the arrival of your little one.

We’ll also go over how parents’ habits play a role in baby sleep safety and what you can do to help your little one snooze safe and sound. 

9 Expert Tips For Safe Sleep

Making sure your baby is sleeping safely is all about where they sleep, how they sleep, and what goes into the crib with them — and we’ve got tips for all of it. 

We’ll start with how to choose and set up a crib and finish with how to put your baby down to sleep to keep them as safe and comfortable as possible.

1) Choose A Firm Crib Mattress

Although you might enjoy dozing off on a fluffy bed, soft mattresses aren’t safe for babies. When it comes to choosing a crib mattress for your infant, firmer is best.

In general, it’s not safe to have soft items in the crib that could get in the way of your baby breathing — and that includes the mattress. Make sure your crib mattress is firm and bounces right back when you press on it.

But keep in mind that firm doesn’t have to mean rock hard and uncomfortable. Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress is the perfect combination of comfy and safe — comfortable enough to allow your little one to “sleep like a baby” but firm enough to provide a safe sleeping environment.

firm crib mattress for safe sleep

Plus, it’s big enough for a toddler, so Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress can provide your little one with years of great sleep. With our standard-sized mattress, there’s no need to purchase a new one when your tot moves from their crib into a toddler bed. There’s plenty of room to grow!

2) Check The Fit Of The Crib And Mattress

Whether you’ve opted for a space-efficient mini crib or a longer-lasting standard crib, you’ll need to purchase either a mini- or standard-sized crib mattress to match the crib size.

Luckily, Newton Baby offers both mini crib mattresses and standard crib mattresses! So regardless of the size you prefer, you don’t have to compromise on safety.

Once you’ve purchased both the crib and the mattress, double-check to make sure they fit correctly. Why do you have to check the fit? The size of both cribs and crib mattresses are regulated by the government, but there’s a bit of wiggle room when it comes to size regulations.

This means that a standard crib mattress will typically fit a standard crib, but you still need to make sure the mattress fits snug as a bug — not too big and not too small.

There should be no big gaps between the edge of the mattress and the inside of the crib. A large gap can pose a safety risk for your baby.
As a rule, when the mattress is inside the crib, you should not be able to fit more than two fingers between it and the crib frame.

proper crib mattress fit for safe sleep

3) Remove Blankets, Pillows, And Toys From The Crib

The crib itself is important when it comes to safe sleep, but so is what’s inside the crib — or, rather, what’s not inside the crib.

To provide your little one with the safest possible rest, keep all toys, pillows, blankets, and crib bumpers out of the crib. While cute, all of these could prove to be choking hazards. You’ll also want to make sure the bedding is not too loose.

For safe bedding, choose a tight-fitting bottom sheet (and no top sheet). Consider going with a sheet that’s breathable, soft, 100% organic, and tailored to fit a standard-sized crib mattress.
Newton Baby’s Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets fit the bill for safe sleep. They’re hypoallergenic, incredibly soft, and cute to boot! And the pre-shrunk, organic muslin cotton is machine washable for the most hygienic sleep surface.
When the unexpected — yet inevitable — nighttime diaper leak happens, you’ll be glad you can throw all of your baby’s bedding in the wash without thinking twice.

But while crib sheets are cute, maybe you prefer to go without one. Good news: you can with a Newton Baby mattress! Our mattress is washable (yes, you read that right!) and comfy enough for your baby to sleep on.

The Newton Baby Crib Mattress Cover is also completely washable, which makes for easy cleanup for you. Keep an extra cover on hand to use during laundry days.

4) Swaddle And Use A Sleep Sack

Since blankets are not recommended to go inside cribs, how can you keep your little one warm enough during the night?

Wrap your newborn in a swaddle and put your older baby in a sleep sack or wearable blanket. They’ll stay warm and cozy without the risk of getting tangled up in a blanket.


In addition to keeping your tiny one warm enough, swaddling your baby is a great way to help them fall asleep and stay asleep.

Being wrapped up might feel claustrophobic to you, but for a newborn baby recently out of the womb, it’s familiar and secure! Swaddling also calms their startle reflex and keeps them from scratching themselves.

If you’re not sure how to go about wrapping your baby, read our article here. Then swaddle your little one in Newton Baby’s Organic Swaddle Blankets.
baby swaddled for safe sleep
Since they’re completely breathe-through, these swaddles keep your baby at the perfect temperature to avoid overheating. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic and soft on your baby’s delicate skin.

Tip: for safety reasons, stop swaddling as soon as it looks like your little one is close to being able to roll over.

By the way, swaddles can come in handy for a lot of other things, too! Your Organic Swaddle Blanket can double as a stroller, changing pad or nursing cover, burp cloth, and blanket.

Multipurpose baby items are just what a busy parent needs!

Sleep Sacks

Once your baby transitions out of a swaddle, we recommend putting them in a sleep sack. A sleep sack is a wearable blanket, which means your little one is warm enough all night without the danger of having a blanket in their crib.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, your baby should sleep with only one layer more than you’re wearing. You don’t want your baby to get too hot during the night.
baby wearing a sleep sack for safe sleep

5) Share Your Room But Not Your Bed

For the first few months, you’ll probably want to keep your little one close and keep an eye on them at all times. We understand that! But it doesn’t mean that your baby should sleep in the bed with you.

This is called co-sleeping and it’s not a safe way for your baby to snooze. Instead of co-sleeping, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing for at least the first six months of your baby’s life — ideally for the first year.

Room-sharing means that you put your baby’s crib (or bassinet or cradle) in your room. They’ll be close enough for you to check in on them and feed them easily, but without the risks associated with co-sleeping.

6) Put Baby On Their Back For Safe Sleep

baby sleeping on back for safe sleep
Tummy time is essential to help your baby develop and eventually gain the strength to roll over. But being on their tummy to sleep is a big no-no!

We’ll go over tummy time more in the next section. Just know that when it’s time to lay your little one down to sleep, the safest position is on their back, not on their side or their stomach.

Once your baby learns how to roll over (usually around four months old), you’ll still put them to sleep on their back. If they use their newfound skills to roll over during the night, there’s no need to go back into the nursery to turn them over.

Instead, the best thing you can do to ensure safe sleep is to use a firm, breathable mattress in their crib.

7) Practice Safe Tummy Time

As we said, you should always put your baby on their back to sleep. But tummy time during their waking hours is vital for your baby to build the muscles necessary to roll over (and so much more).

We don’t want to skip over this important practice without talking about safety.

Don’t give your baby tummy time when they are sleepy. Your baby should be fully awake! And who else should be completely awake? The supervising adult.

We know taking a cat nap is tempting, but you’ll have to find another time.

8) Use A Breathable Mattress

While most babies start rolling over around four to six months old, your talented little one could take you by surprise and make the big flip early! No matter when they reach this milestone, it’s a good idea to always put them to bed on a breathable mattress.

If your baby rolls onto their stomach at night, a breathable mattress — like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress — will help reduce the risk of suffocation.

breathable crib mattress for safe sleep

Our Crib Mattress allows for the best breathability because both the mattress and the mattress cover are breathable. It also helps regulate your baby's body temperature and reduces dust mites and allergens.

If you already have a crib mattress, consider using Newton Baby’s mattress pad on top of it to add a layer of waterproof, hypoallergenic, and breathable protection.
With two layers of extra, breathable 3-D material and a universal fitted skirt, this is the mattress pad that makes any mattress breathable!

9) Give Your Baby A Pacifier At Bedtime

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, allowing your baby to use a pacifier while they snooze is another way to promote safe sleep.
pacifier for safe sleep

If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your newborn has gotten the hang of nursing (around a month) to offer a bedtime binky. After that, give your baby a pacifier when you put them down for bedtime as well as naptime

Note: some babies might not want a pacifier and that’s okay — don’t force it.

But if your little one does take a pacifier, make sure you have the right one. Choose one that is the best size for your baby’s age so it’s not too big or too small for their little mouth. Also, check that their binky doesn’t have loose parts.

Lastly, don’t put your baby to bed with a pacifier connected to any sort of strap. Pacifiers with straps that attach to clothing might be convenient when you’re on the go, but they are a major safety hazard for your little one while they sleep.

What if the pacifier slips out of your baby’s mouth during the night? Don’t worry about it. There’s no need to go into their room to put it back in if they aren’t crying.

Safe Sleep: What Parents Can Do

The tips we listed above have everything to do with your baby’s sleep environment — where they sleep, how they’re dressed, and what they sleep with. But there are also a few additional ways to look out for your baby’s sleep safety that are directly related to you, the parent.

Breastfeed If Possible

Mom breastfeeding preparing baby for safe sleep
How you feed your baby is a personal decision that should be made by your family in conjunction with your baby’s pediatrician. But, interestingly enough, your baby’s diet plays a part in safe sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that “Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.”

So, unless your pediatrician specifically recommends against breastfeeding for you and your little one, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms stay away from formula or other milk-based supplements.

Instead, they advise breastfeeding only or bottle-feeding with breast milk you’ve pumped.

That said, we understand that breastfeeding simply may not be possible for some moms. That’s OK! Just do what you can and take the other precautions in this list to encourage safe sleep for your little one.

Avoid Alcohol And Drug Use

Alcohol and illicit drug use are no-nos for pregnant moms. But alcohol consumption and drug use can also be a sleep safety concern after your baby is born.

According to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “It is very important not to bed share with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol or taken any medicines or illicit drugs that can make it harder for you to wake up.”

Stop Smoking

Smoking is another habit to kick to the curb in the interest of your baby’s (and your!) well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes “substantial evidence” to conclude that mom smoking increases the risk of SIDS.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against smoking and exposure to smoke both during pregnancy and after you have your baby.

Take Your Baby To Check-Ups

This may seem like the basics of Baby 101, but it’s important: go to your baby’s regularly scheduled doctor appointments. They’ll get any needed vaccines, and your pediatrician will check in with you and your little one.

And what about vaccines and safe sleep? Let us put your mind at ease. Contrary to the rumor that DTP can cause SIDS, your baby’s immunizations “may have a protective effect against SIDS,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also chimes in on the topic:

“Multiple research studies and safety reviews have looked at possible links between vaccines and SIDS. The evidence accumulated over many years do not show any links between childhood immunization and SIDS.”

Safe Sleep For Your Baby Starts With You

safe sleep tips for parents

Armed with all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to look out for your baby’s safety during the night. Remember our nine tips for creating a safe sleep environment, like keeping the crib empty, sharing your room but not your bed, and giving your baby a pacifier at bedtime.

Set up your safe nursery with a crib, Newton Baby’s breathable mattress, and Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets. Then lay your little one down (on their back!) to sleep the night away.

And, lastly, keep in mind the recommendations for parents: breastfeed your little one, avoid alcohol and drug use, stop smoking, and take your baby to their check-ups.

When you take these measures, you can rest easy during nap time and bedtime knowing that your precious little one is sleeping as safely as possible. Safe sleep starts tonight!