When it comes to being a new parent, there are rarely any easy answers. No matter what you do, there will always be someone telling you that you should do it differently. It gets tiring, but we’re happy to report that there is one sound piece of parenting advice that you should always take: a baby should always lie flat on their back when they’re put to sleep. They also shouldn’t be surrounded by any blankets, pillows, or toys.

Positioning is Important

The reason why babies should always sleep on their back is that their airways are narrow and can be obstructed easily. This means that the safest position for a baby to be in while they sleep is on their back on a firm surface. There is nothing obstructing the airway, so you can be reasonably confident that your baby can sleep unattended.

Of course, anyone who has had to care for a baby knows that letting them sleep only on their back is easier said than done. First of all, not all babies will like being placed onto their backs in their cribs. They fuss, they cry, they turn over, and do anything but sleep peacefully for long. They also often fall asleep in sitting positions in swings and rockers, which is not a safe position for them. It may be tempting to just let a baby fall asleep in a swing while you take some time for yourself, but this position can obstruct their airways and have potentially fatal consequences. A deadly compression of a baby’s airway can happen without warning, so you should avoid letting a baby’s chin rest on their chest while they sleep. If your baby does fall asleep in this position, they need to be watched very closely or moved to a flat surface as soon as possible.

As for having blankets, pillows, and toys in your baby’s crib, this is also a bad idea. Too much bedding can obstruct a baby’s airway just like a seated sleeping position. The same goes for stuffed animals or anything else you might want to put in a crib. Sleeping flat on your back on a firm mattress with almost no blankets or pillows might sound uncomfortable for you, but it really is the safest sleeping environment for a young baby.