There are a number of things you need to be aware of when it comes to your baby’s sleep space. In this blog I am going to pinpoint factors that you can consider when laying your baby down for sleep.
First of all think about the A, B, C of sleep. ALONE, BACK, CRIB. This is the basis of safe sleep. It is recommended that all babies sleep alone and not bed share. Some countries recommend your baby share a room until the age of 6 months and other countries suggest 12 months. After these ages it is parental choice if they wish to continue to share a room.
It is recommended to lay your baby on their back to sleep. Once your baby starts to roll over it is normal development for them to prefer to sleep on their tummy. When this starts to happen usually the baby has enough core body strength to lift their head, turn from side to side and roll back although this sometimes takes a little more practice and can be a little frustrating for them and you when they have not quite worked out yet how to roll back again!
Do not be worried if your baby rolls over onto their tummy to sleep, when they have mastered this skill. Giving your baby lots of tummy time opportunities during the day will really help build that core body strength and also give you and them the confidence they can roll unaided! Even if it is only 3-5 minutes a few times a day, every little helps and gets them used to the feelings and sensations and their own capabilities!
Sleeping on a sofa, chair with you or without you near is regarded as unsafe and not recommended. Remember a firm, flat surface.
If you have been swaddling your baby it is imperative to remove the swaddle immediately when you see the first signs of your baby rolling. This is usually around the approximate age of 12 weeks but can be earlier or later.
If their arms and body are restricted they cannot move easily and this poses a serious risk of SIDS if they try to roll or indeed do roll over. You will need to transition to using a sleep bag. Ensure you use the correct age for your baby so they do not wiggle down inside it and also check the correct tog for room temp.
My favourite swaddle is the Miracle Blanket HERE
My favourite sleep bags are HERE
Loose Sheets, Blankets and Duvets
Fitted sheets are best used for covering the mattress. Loose blankets and duvets are not recommend to be used. You may decide to use loose blankets or sheets for your newborn baby so ensure they are firmly tucked in and under your baby’s arms/shoulders ensuring they cannot lift their arms and wriggle under the covers. Natural fibres such as cotton or bamboo are recommend, not fleece as this poses an overheating risk as it is not a breathable material. Cotton cellular blankets are recommended.
The use of weighted blankets, swaddles, sheets or sleep bags are only to be used under paediatrician/health care advice. They may cause overheating and of course covering of the head.
Babies of many ages love to sleep in a sling. They enjoy that closeness to you, it mimics the squished up feeling they had in the womb and of course is warm and near breast milk! If you choose to baby wear please remember the following advice from Baby Sling Safety
When you're wearing a sling or carrier, don't forget the T.I.C.K.S acronym:
In view at all times.
Close enough to kiss.
Keep chin off the chest.
Keep their chin off your chest to avoid suffocation. I highly recommend speaking with Sarah from South London Slings who can advise on the best sling for your needs and you can even try before you buy!
Not recommended to use under the age of 2 years. It may look cute, they may have them in the shop window with the beautiful matching bed linen but please do not use them. The following statistic comes direct from the Lullaby Trust UK
Pillows use alone has been shown to increase the chance of SIDS occurring by up to 2.5 times.
If you have concerns for plagiocephaly (or ‘flat head syndrome’) please speak with your health care professional BEFORE using any pillow.
Your Baby’s Mattress
It is important the mattress you use is new and firm and of course fits correctly the cot frame you are using.
If you use a second hand mattress ensure it is clean, no mildew, rips, tears and is in excellent condition.
A mattress that fits correctly to the cot will ensure no entrapment occurs.
A waterproof cover is essential to ensure the mattress does not get wet. If this happens mildew can occur and this poses a risk of SIDS and is of course unhealthy for your child to breathe in.
Comforters and Lovie’s are not to be left in the sleep space under the age of 12 months while your child is sleeping. Simple.
Cot bumpers are not advised due to strangulation from the material and loose cords. The worry we have as parents is an e.g. may get caught in the bars or your child bangs his head on the side. Your baby is clever, and will learn the parameters of their sleep space and in my experience of over five and half years of sleep consulting and 20 years as a nanny and 7 years as a parent this has only happened perhaps 3-4 times. And once baby has freed their leg in a few minutes they are back to sleep. Cot bumpers or cushions are not worth the risk over a couple of minutes wake time.
Bedroom Safety /Plugs/Cords
Ensure the cot is not near a radiator, window or curtains/blinds and cords for obvious reasons. Ensure the window is locked and your baby is unable to open it. Plug sockets must be covered. If you have a campy that looks beautiful on Pinterest it does not need to be over the cot. You can place it in another area of the room perhaps the story corner. You do not want to run the risk of them pulling it down or entangling themselves in it in the cot.
I am talking the all singing and dancing and pretty light up ones, not the ones to text and check Facebook on! Pop it over the changing table to help distract your baby when they are wriggling around getting dressed or having a nappy changed. Hanging over the cot poses a risk of them pulling it down, getting caught in the strings and them there may be a battery that pops out…
The Lullaby Trust recommend to be kept between 16 and 20.c. Using the correct tog sleep bag and sleep wear is imperative and of course during warmer months a lower tog sleep bag will need to be used and sleep wear looked at. Of course the use of cot bumpers and soft toys and Lovie’s may raise the temperature in the cot as they prevent air circulation.
Position of Your Baby in the Cot
When popping your baby down to sleep ensure their feet are to the foot of the cot. This ensures they cannot wriggle down under the covers.
Last year the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) released a statement to recomend that all pods, nest and sleep positioners were not to be used as they pose a risk to SIDS. You can read more about this HERE
I have seen sooo many “sleepyheads” being used because they were gifted, they are pretty and of course are easy but that raised edge makes me shudder, body temperature may rise due to the materials inside the product and of course it is not firm. If you do have one and use it please make sure you are next to your baby and it is only used for play time/wake time.
Some other places you can find safe sleep information
Peaceful safe sleep to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
(Disclaimer - Some affiliate links are provided in this blog. Should you purchase it will be on no extra cost to you however I will earn a few pennies from the sale)