The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This, of course, is under normal circumstances, but what about in an emergency? Natural disasters and some cases of emergencies can sometimes leave parents in a tough situation where a crib may not be an option. Here, I’ll cover some safe sleeping alternatives to cribs to provide your baby with a safe, comfortable place to dream peacefully.
In the wake of a recent natural disaster that forced many people out of their homes and even total loss of their home, there were many people including children and infants that had to seek shelter elsewhere. Normally when you plan a trip away from home, you’d either pack along a portable crib/play yard or bassinet, or have arrangements already set in terms of where your baby will sleep (Tip: many hotels provide cribs at no additional charge for guests upon request). During a crisis of emergency, however, there is no time to start packing along all of the essentials. So what do you do if you have to leave your home without a moment’s notice or worse, lose everything in a natural disaster, and have no other means of providing a space for your baby to sleep?
Safety Tips for Sleeping Alternatives to Cribs
Whether you are staying at a relative or friend’s home, a hotel, or a shelter, there are ways you can provide a safe sleeping space for your baby. No matter what form of container you use for your baby, always remember to keep these important tips in mind:
Always place your baby on a flat surface – soft bedding and unstable surfaces such as an air mattress, water beds, sofas, futons, or pillows are not suitable for your baby to sleep on as these pose a risk for SIDS. Likewise, placing your baby on a high surface like a table or counter can be very dangerous. Be sure to place whatever you are using as a crib alternative for your baby on the floor next to you and always put baby to sleep on their back!
Keep loose bedding and toys away– There should be nothing in or too close to the area that your baby is sleeping in. Loose bedding and plush toys pose a serious SIDS risk and should be kept away and out of reach from the area where your baby is sleeping in.
Here are some options:
For newborn babies under 2 months old
A drawer – believe it or not, people have successfully used drawers to put their babies in to sleep. Take the drawer out completely and place it on a flat, stable surface like the floor. Do not place your baby in a drawer containing loose articles such as clothing.
A laundry basket – if you happen to have brought along a laundry basket or there’s one you can borrow from the person you’re staying with, this can serve as a make-shift crib temporarily. It must be rectangular and large enough to accommodate your baby.
A sturdy box or carton- In other countries, expectant moms actually receive a large box of baby essentials they’ll need during the first few weeks after delivery including the box the supplies come in that can serve as a crib. A clean box with sturdy sides (not wet, floppy, or collapsing) can provide a portable bassinet for your baby to sleep in at night. Do not lift up and move the box around while your baby is in it.
A washtub – This is actually a very great idea for use in areas where people may have had to evacuate their homes due to flooding from a storm as it will not allow water to seep in. A washtub or container such as a plastic tote (uncovered!) that is large enough for your baby can provide a safe temporary sleeping environment for infants.
For Older Babies
Babies are most vulnerable for SIDS between the ages of 1 and 4 months. After age 6 months, the rate at which SIDS occurs in infants drops to only 10 percent. It is still advised to take necessary measures to prevent the risk. The above recommendations are not appropriate for babies older than 4 months as they become more active. Co-sleeping, if practiced carefully can be an alternative when a crib is not available. Follow the same guidelines to prevent risk by ensuring there is no loose, fluffy, or soft materials that can pose a risk for suffocation and keep your baby lightly covered. Never use heavy blankets or bedding and be sure your baby’s head remains uncovered.
In a time of crisis or emergency, it’s always ideal to be well prepared but this isn’t always feasible. When you have to leave your home for any reason, these safe sleeping alternatives can provide peace of mind.