Any parent will recognise the difficulties of not getting enough sleep and life with a newborn is one of those times when sleep deprivation is usually at its worst. Getting enough sleep is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing but how can you make sure that your baby is safe when they’re asleep?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS) is something that worries many parents, but there are many ways that you can reduce the risk to your baby. Following safe sleep guidance is one of the best ways to do this.
It is safest for your baby to sleep in the same room as you do for the first six months at least, ensuring the room is smoke free.
The safest position for your baby to sleep on is their back - which is different to what a lot of our parents and grandparents were taught. Place your baby with his or her feet at the bottom of the cot, especially if you are using a blanket to keep them warm. This stops them being able to wriggle underneath the blanket too far and obstructing their mouth and nose. Only tuck their blanket in at shoulder height and ensure they don’t sleep with anything near their face. Hats and any jewellery, like teething necklaces or dummy savers/clips should be removed for sleep.
Choosing a cot can be one of the most exciting parts of preparing for a baby’s arrival, as well as selecting beautiful clothes. But what should you know about safety?
You may wish to use a side-car style cot which allows you to care for your baby at night without having to get up.
Make sure you buy a cot that is safety tested and CE marked. It’s fine to buy a second-hand cot if you want to, but make sure you buy a new mattress, as laying your baby to sleep on a used mattress can be a safety hazard. Mattresses should be firm and a good fit without any gaps at the edges. There should never be anything else in the cot with your baby. Cot bumpers and soft toys can be a suffocation hazard, so only use these for decorative purposes.
Hazards and risks
- Make sure that no one smokes in the same room as your baby
- Don’t sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby
- Don’t let your baby get too cold or too hot - you can buy room thermometers to monitor the air temperature to help you decide how many layers the baby should wear.
- Never bed share with your baby if you have been drinking, smoking or taken drugs.
Many parents have found that bedside cots, often known as co-sleepers or sidecar cots, are a great solution for keeping babies safe and close to them without bedsharing. These are usually attached to the bed and are especially useful if you are breastfeeding.
However, other parents prefer to share their bed with their baby. This can allow for getting more sleep as a breastfeeding parent. It is important to follow safe sleep advice if you plan to bedshare. Preparing in this way can help tired parents to avoid the danger of falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
Public Health England have teamed up with UNICEF, Basis and The Lullaby Trust to provide updated and agreed information. Download the Safer Sleep for Babies Guide.