When it comes to bringing your baby home for the first time, it’s a very exciting moment but it can also cause parents some worries about how best to keep your baby safe.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the fear of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or otherwise known as cot death) is on the mind of any new parent, and as worrying as it is, there are lots of actions we can take within the home to ensure baby stays healthy and well.
The most reliable source of information around safe sleep is clearly set out by The Lullaby Trust and should be the first place you look for information on safe sleep. The Lullaby Trust pulls together information based on the latest data and therefore is generally much more reliable than any other source you may find on the internet.
So let’s take a look at Safe Sleep tips and some of the questions that I get asked frequently.
Babies should always be put down to sleep on their backs, with their feet at the bottom of the cot, moses basket or crib. If using a blanket, this should be tucked under your baby’s arms and tucked in neatly at the sides. The reason for putting feet at the bottom of the cot is to stop your little one wriggling down and getting caught in the blanket.
What happens if my baby turns over in the night? Babies usually start to roll around 4-6 months. Once your little one starts rolling, you might find they roll onto their tummies to sleep which is the preferred position of many children and as long as they can roll back its fine for them to do so. Tummy sleeping is particularly popular in children who suffer with reflux or digestive issues as it can be more soothing on their little stomachs.
The recommended temperature of a baby’s room is 16-20 degrees Celsius (60-68 degrees Fahrenheit). A general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one layer more than you.
In beautiful summer days, houses can become very warm and it can be difficult to keep the room cool. The best way is to keep windows open throughout the day and blinds down. Use adequate clothing and ensure not to overheat baby. Gro have a great guide on their website which provides details of how to dress your little one depending on the temperature of the room.
Also, purchase a low tog sleeping bag. There are some fantastic ones out there, I particularly like Halo’s “SleepSack” sleeping bag, which are really light for hot weather. When it’s super hot – above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) – babies can just sleep in a vest or nappy, with or without the low tog sleeping bag.
where should my baby sleep?
The recommendation is to have your little one in the same room as you until 6 months. You may be co-sleeping with your baby, so it’s important to follow the safe sleep guidelines for co-sleeping.
Your little one should sleep on a firm, flat mattress that has been purchased solely for them. This is very important as between uses, mattresses may have been stored and bacteria can easily grow on the foam that makes up the mattress. This allows for bacteria to breed and can be harmful for your baby’s respiratory system.
There should be no toys in the cot and there should be 3cm or less between the edge of the cot and the mattress to prevent any entrapment.
I get asked a lot about different sleep aids and products but I strongly believe in setting out a routine from an early age for your little one, which is as natural as possible, and doesn’t fully depend on these types of products.
what should i do about sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation can be one of the hardest adaptations for new parents. When you’re tired (and trust me – I’ve been there), you will do anything to get your baby to sleep and this can often mean not following the safe sleep guidelines, which is understandable. If sleep deprivation is affecting you, it may be time for you to look at sleep training with your little one. This both ensures safer sleep for your child and some sleep for you.
I’m a baby and toddler sleep consultant specialising in designing gentle sleep training programmes for babies and toddlers. I work with clients on a one to one basis and I also have a series of age-specific online courses for you to implement at your own pace.