It’s always the right time to get the inside scoop on how to ensure your little one has all they need for safe, restful sleep. I’ve collaborated with The Natural Baby Shower to bring you expert sleep advice for your baby.
Whether you have a newborn or toddler, it’s important to note what precautions to take to aid a better quality sleep both for your little ones and yourselves. So, read on to make sure your little one’s environment is conducive to quality sleep, every night!
Natural Baby Shower have spoken with an amazing sleep consultant, Susan Wallace, who has offered up her expert knowledge to help you.
Preventing SIDS Recommended Guidelines
In order to prevent SIDS it is recommended to follow the following 6 guidelines:
Sleep baby in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months
A baby should share a room with their parent for at least the first 6 months. This is thought to reduce the risk of SIDS by up to half (Lullaby Trust). This applies to all sleep, not just those which take place at night. However, 6 months is the recommended minimum, and many parents choose to keep their baby in the same room as them for a longer period.
This also makes it easier for parents to respond to their baby’s individual needs. Young babies need regular feeds, reassurance, and nappy changes. Some families breast/chest feed and others choose to bottle feed.
Lie baby on their back at the foot of the cot
Your baby should be placed on their back during sleep time. A baby should be placed on their back for all sleep, both during the day and at night. This can reduce the rate of SIDS by 6 times compared to being placed on their front (Lullaby Trust). Their feet should be at the foot of the cot or crib, often referred to as ‘the feet to foot’ position.
Once a baby begins to roll they are able to find their own comfortable position. The first few times they do so parents might like to gently turn them back if they get stuck or are in need of support. But otherwise, they can roll and find their own position, provided they are placed on their back at the start of sleep.
In order to counterbalance the time spent on their backs, it is recommended that babies should be provided with adequate supervised tummy time during the day, outside of sleep times.
Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with a baby. This can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times (Lullaby Trust). If you feel yourself becoming sleepy whilst holding your baby on a sofa or armchair, either place baby in a safe sleep environment or ask another adult to take over the care of baby whilst you obtain some rest.
Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress
Babies should sleep on a flat, firm mattress which contains a waterproof cover. This is to ensure the mattress is kept clean and dry. The mattress must be in good condition and the waterproof sheet fit the mattress correctly.
As the surface should be flat, items such as baby hammocks are therefore not recommended, as they do not comply with this advice. Babies must never sleep in a baby bouncer or stationary car seat. As the surface should be firm, pods and nests to not comply with safe sleep guidelines and should therefore not be used. Babies should be placed in the feet-to-foot position and quilts, pillows and duvets avoided.
Keep the cot clear
Sleeping bags should be the correct size and there should be no danger that the baby’s head could go below the head hole. If using a blanket, it should be firmly tucked in and should not be above shoulder height. Remember if a blanket is folded it doubles the tog and this should be noted to prevent overheating.
Many families find that their newborn baby sleeps well when using a swaddle. However it is important that babies are not swaddled in such a way that it is too tight around their hips, or results in excess material around their face, which could be a safety concern. Love to Dream swaddles therefore make an excellent choice, as they are approved by the Hip Dysplasia society and zip up to ensure that there is no excess material around baby’s face. A swaddled baby must always be placed on their back.
Once they show signs that they are beginning to roll, then it must no longer be used – Love to Dream have a transitional swaddle, with zip off sleeves to assist with this transition. The cot should remain clear of pillows, toys, comforters and cot bumpers. Cot bumpers are now banned across the United States.
Avoid baby overheating
Ensure that your baby is not at risk of overheating. The recommended room temperature is 16 – 20 degrees Celsius. The temperature rating of the sleepwear should be adjusted depending on the temperature of the room. A room thermometer is helpful to determine the temperature of the sleep environment. It can also be useful to place your hand on the back of your baby’s neck or on their chest.
This can help to gauge the baby’s core temperature. If they feel warm, loose a layer of clothing, or reduce the temperature rating of their sleepwear. If they feel cool, then increase the temperature rating. It is also recommended that the cot/bed should not be placed directly beside a radiator or window to prevent overheating, and that babies should not wear hats indoors after leaving the hospital, and particularly not for sleep.
Keep baby smoke-free
Young babies often prefer nose breathing. When they have a cold, this can impact their sleep as their nasal passage is congested. A humidifier can provide moisture to the nasal area, helping to promote breathing and sleep. A cold mist humidifier is the safest choice to use with young children. Keeping the home smoke-free will help assist in ensuring that the baby’s lungs are breathing clean air and not subjected to second-hand smoke.
Guidelines For Bed-Sharing
Whilst Safe Sleep Guidelines recommend that babies sleep in their own sleep space, many families choose to bed share. For these families, Safe Sleep Guidelines relating to safe bed-sharing must be followed.
- Baby’s sleep space should be kept clear. It should be free from pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items which could obstruct the baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat.
- All other safe sleep guidance should be followed, such as putting your sleeping baby on their back.
- There should be no pets or other children in the bed. Children should not sleep together until they’re both over the age of 18 months.
- Ensure the baby can’t fall out or become trapped between the mattress and the bed.
Advice on when not to co-sleep include:
- If any adults in the bed smoke.
- If any adults in the bed have consumed alcohol, or drugs or are extremely tired.
- If a baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks)
- If a baby was born with a low birth weight (5.5lb or under)
- Never sleep with a baby on an armchair or sofa.
In the UK, Safe Sleep Guidelines are recommended for all babies aged from birth to 12 months. For more details on promoting safe sleep visit the Lullaby Trust.
When it comes to little ones, nothing is more important than their safety and wellbeing. This is just as important when they are asleep, as when they are awake.
Many families find it reassuring to use a breathing and heart rate monitor such as the Owlet. The Owlet fits comfortably on babies foot, which prevents loosing connection even if baby changes position during the night.
For more guidance on safe sleep or to shop a range of baby sleeping products check out Natural Baby Shower.