Keeping your baby safe in bed
Worrying about the safety of your children starts from as soon as you find out you are pregnant until well past their teenage years and beyond! But at least when worrying about your baby in bed, there are many things you can do to help your baby stay safe.
One of the main issues to consider with your baby is reducing her risk of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or Cot Death). This is the unexplained death of an otherwise healthy baby, generally while sleeping.
As well as reducing SIDS risk, you also need to ensure your baby is safe from suffocation, strangulation and falls.
Back is best:
Sleeping your baby on her back is safest. While many of us were slept on our tummies as babies, the evidence that back sleeping is safest is now very clear. Place your baby’s head on alternate sides for each sleep to avoid a flat spot on the back of her head.
Sleep baby in her own bed:
Co-sleeping with baby in your bed has many risk factors. These include rolling on your baby, loose bedding suffocating baby, over-heating and baby ending up in a dangerous position. Co-sleeping is particularly dangerous if either partner has been drinking or taking drugs, and may be less aware of the baby’s presence in the bed.
We recommend you sleep your baby in her own bed, which can be pulled right next to your bed for quick & easy night feeding. Recent research suggests that keeping baby in your bedroom for the first six months can further reduce SIDS risk.
Also avoid sleeping with a baby on the sofa, as this can be very dangerous from both baby falling off and suffocation risks.
If you must co-sleep with your baby, click here for more information on co-sleeping safely.
Smoking around your baby is a clear SIDS risk, so it is best to stop smoking and ensure no-one else smokes anywhere near your baby. Smoking while pregnant is also a significant SIDS risk, so quit now if you are pregnant or planning another baby!!!
Avoid loose bedding:
Loose bedding in your baby’s bed can be both a strangulation and suffocation risk. Swaddle your baby so she stays firmly wrapped or use a fitted velcro wrap, such as a SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap (see picture).
Once you stop swaddling your baby, use a quality baby sleeping bag for all sleeps. This means you don’t need any blankets or other loose bedding. This also means your baby can’t kick off the blankets and get cold, which will help her sleep through the night.
An excellent option is a merino & cotton sleeping bag, as these help regulate your baby’s temperature in both winter & summer. I would recommend the Woolbabe sleeping bag.
Ensure your baby’s face & head remain uncovered at all times. This prevents suffocation and helps your baby regulate her temperature.
Cot Bumpers should also be used with care. They are not recommended for babies under 12 months, and ensure they don't have ties that could be a strangulation risk.
Feet to foot position:
Make up your baby’s bed so her feet are at the foot (or base) of her bed. This means she can’t slip down under the bedding. If you use blankets, ensure they are very firmly tucked in and are no higher than her shoulders.
The right mattress:
Ensure your baby has a new, firm mattress. It should be the right size for her cot, with no gap she can slip into. Babies should not have pillows, sheepskins or loose fitting items underneath them.
Keep your baby the right temperature:
Dress your baby so she is a comfortable temperature, as being either too hot or too cold can be unsafe for babies. Babies usually need one layer more than you are wearing. Check her temperature on her chest - she should be warm but not red or sweaty. If her chest feels cool, then add another layer.
18 degrees is considered the ideal room temperature for a baby’s room. You can use a regular room thermometer, there’s no need for a special nursery thermometer!
Using natural fibres can help your baby regulate her temperature, such as the merino & cotton sleeping bags mentioned above.
Lower the cot:
Once your baby can sit up unaided, lower her cot the bottom setting. This is to ensure she can’t fall out of the cot.
General safety check:
Give the nursery and your baby’s clothing a thorough ‘baby-safe’ check. Get rid of any strangulation risks like curtain or blind cords, look for ties or loose threads on clothing, and hazards like electric cords. Power sockets are best hidden behind furniture and appliances like heaters need to be checked regularly.
Consider a safe sleeping product:
There are a number of excellent products available which can give you peace of mind regarding your baby’s sleep. Choosing the appropriate one depends on your baby’s age and what safety concerns you have.
Please let us know if you need more information on choosing a product to help your baby sleep safely.