What steps can you take to sleep your baby safely?
Most babies will spend a lot of their time sleeping, particularly when they are newborns. But some sleeping arrangements are not safe and can increase the risk of sudden infant death sydnrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents.
It is important to ensure that every sleep is a safe sleep for a baby.
Although it is not known what causes SIDS, researchers have been able to identify factors that increase the risk to babies.
Red Nose provides six evidence-based recommendations for how to sleep a baby safely:
The chance of babies dying suddenly and unexpectedly is greater if they sleep on their tummies or sides.
Healthy babies placed to sleep on the back are less likely to choke on vomit than tummy sleeping babies. In fact, sleeping baby on the back actually provides airway protection.
Some babies, with rare medical conditions, might have to sleep on the tummy or side but only do this if the baby’s medical practitioner advises to do so in writing.
Ensure that baby’s face and head stays uncovered during sleep. A good way to achieve this is to use a safe baby sleeping bag (a safe baby sleeping bag is designed especially for baby and has fitted neck and armholes and no hood). If you decide to use blankets, ensure that the baby’s feet are at the bottom of the cot to reduce the risk of baby slipping down under the blankets. Use lightweight blankets that can be tucked in securely.
Soft items in a baby’s sleeping environment can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death. Remove quilts, doonas, duvets, pillows, cot bumpers, lambswool and fluffy toys.
Babies who are exposed to tobacco toxins during pregnancy or after birth have a significantly higher risk of sudden infant death and the risk increases if a baby sleeps with a parent who is a smoker. These risks still remain even if parents smoke outside, away from their baby.
To reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death, don’t let anyone smoke near your baby – not in the house, the car or anywhere else that your baby spends time.
If you want to quit smoking and you’re not finding it easy, ask for help. Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or ask your doctor, midwife or child health nurse for information and advice.
Cots, mattresses and environments that are unsafe increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death.
Research has shown that sleeping baby in the same room, but not in the same bed, with the parents in the first six to twelve months of life reduces baby’s risk of sudden unexpected infant death. The protective effect of room sharing can be partially explained by increased adult supervision and observation of the baby. This protective effect does not work if the baby is in the room with other children, probably because the children do not know if the baby is safe or not. Research also shows that sharing the same room during baby’s daytime sleeps is protective. A bassinette or portable cot which has been specifically designed as an infant sleeping environment can be used for daytime sleeps and moved from room to room for adult supervision. If this is not possible, safety of the baby’s sleep environment should be viewed as a priority over sharing the same room as baby for daytime sleeps.
The evidence that breastfeeding has a protective effect against sudden unexpected infant death has been gathering over many years. Recent studies show that there is now strong evidence that breastfeeding baby reduces the risk of sudden and unexpected infant death.
For more information visit Red Nose Safe Sleeping