Provide Safe Baby Care Support for Patients with Epilepsy

All clinicians should help guide their patients to prepare a safe home environment for their new babies. It is important to create a safety plan for your patients with epilepsy before they bring their babies home. 

This page includes tips for carrying, bathing, and changing a baby safely and best practices for setting up safe sleeping arrangements. Specific guidelines may vary depending on a patient’s seizure type and severity, but the ones here are appropriate for any person at risk of seizures with impaired awareness.

Topics covered on this page include:

Set Up a Dedicated Baby Care Space

Encourage your patients with epilepsy to create a dedicated baby care space on a single floor of their home. Staying on one level will minimize the risks of accidents occurring when a patient carries their baby up and down stairs.

Enlist the Help of Other Adults 

Let your patients know that having other adults available to provide assistance and support will create a safer environment for them and their baby. Stress the importance of another adult being present for higher-risk care situations like bath time. Having another adult present has the added benefit of there being someone available to care for the baby while the parent gets much-needed rest.   

At-Home Baby Care Specifics

Parents with epilepsy must take special precautions when caring for their infant at home. Work with your patients so they can put these safe practices in place when they bring their baby home.

Advise your patients with epilepsy to:

  • Carry their baby safely. Recommend that they:
    • Avoid carriers that use straps to attach the baby to the person carrying them.
    • Use a stroller to move the baby around the house.
  • Sit on a low chair or the floor when feeding the baby to reduce the risks of falls if the patient has a seizure. (For more information about patients with epilepsy breastfeeding, refer to the Breastfeeding page.)
  • Sit on the floor when changing the baby’s diaper or clothing. 
  • Take extra precautions when bathing their baby to ensure that the baby does not slip underwater if the person bathing them loses consciousness or awareness. Recommend that your patients:
    • Only bathe the baby when another adult is present.
    • Bathe the baby in a sink or infant bath.
    • Only take tub baths themselves when another adult is present. 

Set Up Secure Sleeping Arrangements

Working with your patients with epilepsy to create a safe sleeping arrangement plan is a critical step in ensuring they can care for themselves and their babies. 

Put Safe Sleeping Guidelines in Place for Babies

Make sure your patients are aware of and have plans to follow the American Academy of Pediatricians guidelines:

  • No co-sleeping, ever. Babies should never sleep in a bed with another person. 
  • Babies can sleep in a separate bassinet or crib, either in the same room as the parent(s) or their own room. 
  • Babies should be put down to sleep on their backs without soft toys, pillows, blankets, or other bedding.

Protect the Sleep Needs of Parents with Epilepsy

It is also important for patients with epilepsy to not neglect their own sleep needs after they bring their baby home. Counsel your patients to set up shifts with their baby’s other caregivers so they can sleep for solid blocks of time. People with epilepsy should get at least one uninterrupted four-hour stretch of sleep at night plus a two-hour nap during the day to reduce the risk of seizures. 

Follow-Up with Patients

Schedule a check-in with your patients with epilepsy six weeks after they bring their baby home. Use this opportunity to see if they’re adjusting and sleeping well as part of their postpartum care regimen.

Establishing a baby’s healthy sleep routine may take from three months to three years. Regularly check in with your patient to provide essential ongoing support and guidance. If the patient and their baby have settled into a safe and healthy sleep pattern, consider loosening some restrictions specific to postpartum precautions.

Guide Your Patients

Help your patients with epilepsy create a safety plan for their new baby before they bring the baby home. Giving them a set of guidelines will help increase their confidence that they can provide a safe environment for their baby while caring for their unique needs as a person with epilepsy.

Reviewed by: Laura Kirkpatrick, MD, August 2023