Creating A Safe Sleeping Environment For Your Newborn
As the first official bed linen partner of Red Nose, we are proud advocates of safe sleeping. A safe sleeping environment for your newborn is crucial in the prevention of sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI). During infancy, new babies spend a significant amount of time sleeping- up to 18 hours in a 24 hour cycle.
Maturation of sleep in the first 6 months of life is crucial, and it’s one of the most important psychological processes that occur during the early stages of life. Given the importance of sleep and the large portion of infancy spent sleeping; it’s important to create the safest sleeping environment possible.
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Red Nose Chief Midwife, Jane Wiggill, has provided safe sleeping recommendations developed by Red Nose, to ensure parents and carers can keep babies safe during sleep and reduce the risk of SUDI.
- Sleep your baby on its back
The chance of babies dying suddenly and unexpectedly is greater if they sleep on their tummies or sides.
Healthy babies placed to sleep on their backs are less likely to choke on vomit than tummy sleeping babies as this ensures their airways are kept clear and protective mechanisms (swallow, gag, arousal) work best.
- Keep your baby’s face and head uncovered
To prevent overheating and suffocation, always remove hats, bonnets, beanies and hooded clothing from your baby’s head as soon as they're indoors.
- Ensure a safe sleeping environment night and day
Cots, mattresses and environments that are unsafe increase the risk of SUDI. To prevent accident and injury, choose a cot that meets current Australian Standards for safety (AS2171). Ensure the mattress is firm, clean, flat and the right size for the cot. Ensure the bedding is safe by omitting bulky items.
- Sleep in a safe cot in the same room as parents
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 the baby’s risk of SUDI. The protective effect of room sharing can be partially explained by increased adult supervision and observation of the baby.
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Creating a safe cot is key to the prevention of SUDI. Jane outlines what bedding is safe to include and what should be kept out of the cot during sleep time.
- All new and second-hand cots sold in Australia must meet the current Australian and New Zealand Standard for Cots (AS/NZS 2172:2003) and will carry a label to say so. If you are planning to use a second-hand cot, check that it meets those standards.
- A single, firm mattress that fits snuggly (within 20mm of sides and ends) into the cot.
- Lightweight fitted sheets, flat sheets and cot blankets (tucked in) to make up the cot. Ensure the cot is made up so your baby sleeps at the bottom of the cot and that when your baby is tucked in for sleep, the sheets and blanket can only reach as far as its chest.
- Soft bedding including pillows, doonas, loose bedding or fabric, lambswool, bumpers or soft toys. These items are unnecessary and may cover your baby’s face and obstruct breathing.
- Toys, books, hot water bottles, wheat bags or any hazardous objects that could be harmful to your baby during sleep.
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For a comprehensive list of recommendations on safe sleeping practices, visit the Red Nose website.