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A comfortable bed can make falling and staying asleep easier. So when you want to help your infant sleep, either during a nap or overnight, you'll likely do anything and everything to ensure they're comfortable. But making sure they sleep safely is just as important.

"As an adult, you may fill your bed with fluffy blankets and pillows to make it cozy and warm for yourself. But, this is absolutely something you should not do for infants," said Geisinger pediatrician Stella Cruz, MD. "Plush, soft bedding and stuffed animals are actually dangerous to have in your infant's crib."

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep loose bedding and soft objects away from infants and out of their cribs.

"Blankets, quilts, pillows, stuffed animals and bumper pads can inadvertently lead to suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)," Dr. Cruz said, noting that SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants ages 1 month to 1 year.

Here's what you can to do ensure your infant is sleeping safely and comfortably:

Less is more

"You may get caught up in making the nursery look nice, but you should keep your infant's crib as bare as possible," Dr. Cruz said. "Your baby's safety-approved crib should have a firm mattress covered with a tightly fitted crib sheet."

That means you should keep quilts, blankets, stuffed animals and more somewhere else in the nursery - not in the crib. As your infant grows and gets older, you can put up safe mobiles and bring in music boxes for stimulation, but not at the beginning.

Dress them for sleep

Parents may be tempted to wrap infants in blankets to keep them warm while they sleep, but those blankets are dangerous and your baby simply doesn't need them.

"Dress your infant in a sleep sack or one-piece sleeper if you're concerned your baby will be cold while they sleep - they're very safe and won't compromise his or her ability to move and breathe," Dr. Cruz said.

You don't want your baby to get too warm while sleeping. When the weather is on the warmer side, dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep their room temperature at what would be comfortable temperature for yourself in light clothing.

The back is best

When it comes to laying your baby to sleep, placing them on their back is the best and safest position.

"You should always place your baby on his or her back. Placing them on their side or tummy isn't safe and can lead to suffocation if your baby isn't old enough or strong enough to roll over," Dr. Cruz said.

You can help your baby build up the strength in their arms and neck muscles by giving them plenty of tummy time while he or she is awake and being watched.
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