It’s no secret that the newborn stage can be a shock to our sleep system with babies waking to feed on average every 2-3 hours. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling like a walking zombie and have you day dreaming of those blissful night sleeps you have become accustomed to. It’s no wonder then why we try different ways in which to help our little ones sleep however it is important to know the safest way for your baby to sleep.
Sadly around 4 babies a week still die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in the UK. With proven advice on how to reduce the risk of it occurring we can spread the message to new parents of safer sleep.
Our advice is taken from a charity called The Lullaby Trust. The Lullaby Trust offer safe sleep advice, bereavement support and fundraising and awareness opportunities for this sensitive topic. So, let’s get to it …
The best sleep position for your baby
You should always place your baby on their back to sleep and not on their front or side. Sleeping your baby on their back (known as the supine position) every night is one of the most protective actions you can take to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible.
There is substantial evidence from around the world to show that sleeping your baby on their back at the beginning of every sleep or nap (day and night) significantly reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot can also increase the risk of accidents. While evidence on individual items is not widely available, it makes sense to be as cautious as possible. It is recommended that babies are slept in cots or Moses baskets that are kept as clear as possible and specifically advise:
- No pillows or duvets
- No cot bumpers
- No soft toys
- No loose bedding
- No products (such as wedges or straps) that will keep your baby in one sleeping position
The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/sleeping-position
Sharing a room with your baby
Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months, even during the day. Sleeping on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby is one of the most high-risk situations for them. Studies have found that sharing a sofa or armchair with a baby whilst you both sleep is associated with an extremely high risk of SIDS. One study found that approximately one-sixth of infants in England and Wales who died of SIDS were found sleeping with an adult on a sofa. Make sure that you do not accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a sofa. If you think you might fall asleep, put the baby down in a safe place to sleep.
The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/room-sharing
Co-sleeping with your baby
Some parents choose to bed share with their babies. This means that their baby shares the same bed with an adult for most of the night, and not just to be comforted or fed. Some parents also choose to sleep with their baby in other places. It is important for you to know that there are some circumstances in which sharing a bed with your baby can be very dangerous: Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom) Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy) You are extremely tired Your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less) Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less)
You should never sleep together with your baby if any of the above points apply to you or your partner. It is recommended to make your bed a safer place for baby if you doze off accidentally by following some co-sleeping advice. If you choose to share a bed with your baby, ensure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items in the bed with you that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. A high proportion of infants who die as a result of SIDS are found with their head covered by loose bedding. Also avoid letting pets or other children in the bed.
The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/co-sleeping
The safest room temperature
It is important to make sure that your baby is a comfortable temperature – not too hot or too cold. The chance of SIDS is higher in babies who get too hot. A room temperature of 16-20°C – with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag– is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies.
Every baby is different and the advice on room temperature is intended as a guide. So while it’s important to be informed about overheating, you need to check your baby regularly to see if they are too hot.
Feel your baby’s tummy or the back of their neck (your baby’s hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal). If your baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes or bedding.
The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/baby-room-temperature
What should my baby sleep on?
You should use a firm and flat mattress that is protected by a waterproof cover. This will help keep the mattress clean and dry, as the cover can be wiped down. Make sure your baby’s mattress is in good condition and that it fits the Moses basket or cot properly. Pillow use alone has been shown to increase the chance of SIDS occurring by up to 2.5 times. If you were thinking of using a pillow with your baby due to concerns for plagiocephaly (or ‘flat head syndrome’). There are techniques you can use that could help plagiocephaly which will not increase the risk of SIDS. The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/mattresses-and-bedding
Keeping your baby’s cot clear
It’s very important that you keep your baby’s cot clear, there is evidence to suggest that babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered by items added to a cot. Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot should be avoided where possible. Examples being:
- Pillows or duvets
- Cot bumpers
- Soft toys
- Loose bedding
- Products (such as wedges or straps) that will keep your baby in one sleeping position
The Lullaby Trust. Safer Sleep. Retrieved March 7th, 2019 from www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/clear-cot/
We hope that this advice helps make safer sleep for your baby a little clearer. If you would like further advice please visit the lullaby Trust website at www.lullabytrust.org.uk
Baa for now, Lucy x