Follow these steps to ensure your baby is sleeping in the safest possible way.
Putting your newborn down to sleep can bring a mixture of emotions – relief that you can have a well-earned break while your little one catches up on some zeds, but also anxiety as you listen out for every little intake of breath and tiny movement.
Knowing that you’re putting your baby to sleep in the safest way possible can help reduce those anxious feelings. It helps to remember that cot death – or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – is very rare, but you can reduce the risk even further by following this advice from the baby bedtime experts…
More than a quarter (27.1%) of cot deaths could be prevented if babies’ heads didn’t become covered with bedclothes while they were sleeping, according to new research. For safe sleeping, place your baby with her feet at the foot of the cot and her bedclothes no higher than her shoulders. Use sheets and light blankets until she’s a year old and tuck them in firmly so she can’t wriggle down under them. Alternatively, use a baby sleeping bag, but be sure to buy the correct size so that she can’t slip down inside.
“It’s commonly agreed that bed-sharing is dangerous for a baby if the mother is a smoker. But there is also evidence that it can be dangerous even if the mother is not a smoker,” says Professor George Haycock, scientific advisor for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID).Sleeping with your baby may seem more convenient, but accidents can happen. You might roll over and suffocate her, she could get caught between the wall and the bed, or roll out of your bed and be injured. The FSID advice is clear: the safest place for your baby to sleep is in her own crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.
It’s commonly agreed that bed-sharing is dangerous for a baby if the mother is a smoker.
Professor George Haycock, scientific advisor for the FSID
New research from the USA Agency for healthcare research and quality has revealed that breastfeeding your baby, even just for a short time, means that she is one-third less likely to die from cot death than a baby who has never been breastfed.
Research published in 2005 suggested that dummies could play a role in preventing cot death. The FSID now advises that settling your baby to sleep with a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death, and makes the following suggestions:
“Prevent your baby from overheating by making sure you use the correct bedding and keep the room at the right temperature,” says Professor George Haycock.
A temperature of between 16-20ºC (60.8-68ºF) is recommended: 18ºC (65ºF) is just right. Use a room thermometer to check, and see our guide below for the right amount of bedding to use.
“We were staying with relatives for Christmas, and I couldn't get Georgina to settle in the crib we had for her. An older relative suggested we make a bed for her on the sofa but I was too nervous to do this as I remembered reading a story about a similar situation and the baby was found face down and not breathing in the morning.
“It was not a risk I was prepared to take so we ended up going home and abandoning our plans. Even though older relatives assured me this was common practice years ago, I really felt things had changed so much as the risk of suffocation to your baby if you lay her to sleep on her front is something we are warned about so much these days."
Joanna, 32, mum to Georgina, 3 months
Jo Frost shares her parental guidance on safe sleeping
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