When it comes to babies, there’s often one thing that all parents search for but are rarely successful in finding… that elusive concept of sleep.
If you’re reading this as the proud parents of a newborn, we know it’s likely that a good night’s sleep has been temporarily relegated to the history books! With the realisation that parents can lose between 400 and 750 hours in the first year (eek), it’s a good thing that our little ones are so cute to balance things out! The good news is we can tell you that eventually your little one will start to realise the benefits of a full few hours of shuteye – promise!
However, it’s important to make sure that when baby does sleep, they’re doing so as safely as possible. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, is a condition that can result in a child dying with no apparent cause, often during sleep. Here in the UK, it’s been shown that SIDS can affect over 200 babies in their first 6 months of life every year. Before we go any further, we want to reassure you that SIDS is rare, and there are things you can do to help reduce the risk too. We’ve previously spoken about how breastfeeding may be beneficial in lowering the risk of SIDS, but also practicing ‘safe sleeping’ will help your baby to have the best start in life.
Ensuring your baby is sleeping safely is so important – whatever sleep pattern your child follows, the advice is to follow safe sleeping at all times. For the first 6 months of life, studies show that baby should be sleeping in the same room as you… but not in the same bed or beside you/your partner. A cot or Moses basket is ideal, just make sure that there’s a firm mattress for baby laid completely flat. We know it can be tempting, but baby doesn’t need any pillows, cot bumpers or duvets in with them – a simple cellular blanket or baby-designed sleeping bag (age appropriate) is all they’ll need to keep them cosy and warm.
It’s also vital that you don’t sleep with baby on a chair or otherwise, no matter how tired you feel/if it feels like baby will only sleep when you’re nearby. This can increase the risk of SIDS, not to mention making a rod for your own back when baby is older and has got used to having a human-sized comforter around whenever they want to go to sleep!
When placing baby down to sleep, make sure they’re on their back with their feet touching the end of their cot or Moses basket. You may see the latter being described as adopting the ‘feet to foot’ position in other publications. This is best practice when it comes to safe sleeping.
Keeping your little one at the correct temperature is also key, including when they’re sleeping. Little ones are great at eating, crying and keeping you busy with all those nappy changes, but when it comes to temperature, they rely on Mummy and Daddy to keep them safe. Never cover your baby’s head when they are sleeping, and place blankets layer by layer to get just the right temperature. If you’ve got a thermostat handy, it’s worth keeping an eye on the room temperature too. The NHS recommend keeping baby’s room between 16°C – 20°C where possible.
Finally, make sure that if you or your partner smoke that this is done far away from baby. Whilst not smoking at all would be the dream (excuse the pun), we know that sometimes that’s not possible. Going outside to smoke and keeping your home well-ventilated in such cases should always be the default in this case.
At Birth, Baby & Beyond, we can help you to employ safe sleep practices and reduce the risk of SIDS by giving you lots of useful information and advice. We can help by pointing out behaviours you should be following, whilst also alerting you to products you should avoid (such as sleeping aids). If you’d like to find out more, please feel free to get in touch with one of our team. We also give a wide variety of baby-related information on our social media platforms, so why not check them out too?
Birth, Baby & Beyond