The concept of bringing a new baby home is extremely scary, especially if you’ve never had a child before. There’s a lot to be nervous about when it comes to bringing home a new baby, however, if there’s one thing that most new parents worry about it’s sleeping and ensuring that their baby remains safe while asleep.
While Sudden Infant Death syndrome can still occur, the good news is that better understanding of safe sleeping has dramatically reduced SIDS (Sudden Infant Death syndrome) numbers and risk. However, the risk is only reduced if parents are aware of what is and what isn’t safe sleeping, so being clued up regarding safe sleeping is crucial.
The important thing is not to panic regarding your newborn sleeping: you want to take safe sleeping seriously but you don’t want to become obsessed or overly anxious about it.
The tips and pieces of advice below are designed to help reduce stress, worry and fear and make understanding safe sleeping easier. (Please note, it’s always best to consult a medical professional or your health visitor if you are unsure about safe sleeping and how to keep your baby safe while they sleep.)
Where should your baby sleep?
Until your baby is six months old, it is recommended that they sleep in their own cot in your bedroom. Whether it’s for naps or night time sleeping, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot, while you’re in the room.
There are a number of different cot designs available, many of which have been designed to offer close sleeping to you, but in a separate space, such as bedside cots, for instance.
When it comes to your baby’s cot, one of the most important factors to consider is choosing a safe, breathable crib mattress that has been designed especially for babies. Opt for a mattress that fits snuggly in the cot.
How should you put your baby to sleep?
In regards to how you should put your baby to sleep, there are a number of pieces of advice that it’s a good idea to take note of and follow.
Your baby should always be laid in their cot on their back, with their feet at the very bottom of their cot. This means that the baby cannot wriggle down and accidentally end up under the covers – various studies have shown that one of the highest causes of cot death is when babies end up with their mouth and nose covered.
It is vital that when you put your baby to bed, that you ensure that they are properly tucked in and that there are no loose covers. A lot of parents choose to use ‘baby sleeping bags’ to put their babies to bed in, as these have been designed to reduce the risk of SIDs due to their being no risk of covers coming loose and covering the baby’s mouth or nose.
Never use duvets, pillows or cot bumpers.
If possible, breastfeed your baby. A number of studies have shown that babies that are breastfed tend to have a reduced risk of developing SIDs.
Never allow anyone to smoke in the same room as your baby or around your baby; smoking has been proven to increase the risk of SIDs.
If your baby’s cot has soft toys in it, make sure to remove them before they go to sleep.
Aim to keep the place where your baby sleeps at a constant temperature. If your baby gets too hot or too cold, this could increase the risk of SIDs. For this reason, your baby’s cot should never be placed directly next to a radiator or windowsill.
Is co-sleeping safe?
A lot of parents believe that co-sleeping offers a safe way to sleep with a new baby, however, it’s important to be aware of how to co-sleep safely.
Anyone who smokes drinks large amounts of alcohol regularly or takes medication or drugs should never co-sleep with a baby.
The risk of co-sleeping with a baby also increases if your baby was born early or had a low birth weight – weighed less than 5.5 pounds.
Some studies have shown that co-sleeping can increase the risk of SIDs, there’s also the risk that you could roll over in your sleep and hurt your baby.
When it comes to caring for a newborn, there is a lot that you need to think about and decide. Every parent has their own way of doing things, but the advice above should help to make it easier to ensure that when it comes to sleeping, your newborn is put to bed in the safest way possible.