In the good old days, our parents put us to sleep on our stomachs, used rickety old cribs covered in lead paint and covered us in mountains of frilly blankets and stuffed toys. These days, trying to keep up with the latest safety recommendations can be exhausting. So here’s everything you need to know to make sure your little one is sleeping safely
Did you know the majority of infant suffocations occur in a baby’s cot? Scary as that sounds, you can help avoid these risks. For starters, check the slats on your baby’s cot, which should be no further apart than 2 3/8 inches so your child’s head can’t get stuck between them. (If you’re using a second-hand cradle, check with the manufacturer to make sure it’s never been recalled for a safety issue, such as containing lead paint or suddenly collapsing.)
Make sure the mattress fits snugly against the sides and use only tight-fitting sheets. Keep the cot free of blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals until your child is at least one year old. Finally, even though they look cute, don’t use a bumper as babies can get their faces stuck in them and suffocate.
Don’t overheat your baby. Keep the temperature in her room at about 17°C and don’t cover her head. For the first four months, dress her in a nappy and babygro, and swaddle her in a blanket. (Swaddlinghas been shown to soothe babies and help them sleep better since it reminds them of the cocoon-like feel of the womb.)
To check if your baby is too hot, slip your fingers down the back of her neck – if it’s sweaty and warm to the touch, you may need to remove a layer of clothing or cool the room. When your baby gets older, use a sleeping bag that zips up the front to keep her warm, rather than resorting to a blanket.
The sleep position
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but here it is again just for good measure: always lay babies on their back to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Remove any mobiles or hanging toys from the cot as soon as your baby can push up on her hands and knees or turns five months old, whichever comes first.
Keep the cot away from windows, blinds, or anything with strings that could loop around a baby’s head. Similarly, keep the crib away from any radiators or heat sources.