All parents worry and want the best for their baby and will feel an instinctive need to watch them at all times to ensure they are safe and well protected. In reality this is difficult, since we all need to sleep, so it is good to know some basic guidelines on safe sleeping for baby to help reduce the sad and still present threat of cot death.
Whilst the incidence of Cot Death, or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), has dropped by 69% in the last ten years, you may be surprised to learn that too many babies still die from SIDS every single week in this country. It remains the single biggest killer of babies under one year old.
Types of hazards and risks to watch out for:
Putting baby to bed should not however be the cause of nightmares for parents as there are certain precautions you can take to reduce the risk.
It is now recommended that baby should sleep on his or her back day or night. Whilst awake, baby should be encouraged to get plenty of tummy time activity so that all muscle groups are developed.
Avoid baby having contact around tobacco smoke. Whilst it is recommended that smoking mums should give up the habit before pregnancy, it should also be avoided whilst breastfeeding, or even bottle-feeding. Try to make sure that any other family members or friends do not smoke around baby too.
Your baby should not be allowed to get too hot. Between 16˚Cand 20˚C, or about 65˚F is recommended. A room thermometer can help with this and many novelty ones are available to decorate the nursery attractively, or you may find them integrated into your baby monitor.
Keep the amount of bedding to a minimum, especially in summer. Avoid hot water bottles, electric blankets, or baby sleeping next to a radiator, fire or sunny window.
Don’t forget that as they are more susceptible to bugs, they may suffer fever more frequently and this may raise their temperature. Even during teething you may find baby has a higher temperature so adjust their bedding accordingly, even in winter. Ask your pharmacist to recommend age specific Paracetamol syrup, cool them with a damp face cloth, and make sure they have sufficient boiled cooled water in a baby bottle even if they are breastfed. Open windows or use a fan near, but not directly on, baby’s cot to assist in cooling.
Given their fledgling circulatory system, their hands and feet are usually cool to touch and so may lead you to think they need more warm covers. Simply touch your hand to their stomach and you will get an idea of whether they are too cool or too warm, or use a baby thermometer.
The amount of bedding itself can also be a contributory factor. Keep sheeting and blankets to a minimum, and remember that a folded blanket counts as two. Lightweight sleepbags made from breathable fabrics are a great way for baby to be kept covered and adequately warmed, without sheeting creeping up around their nose and mouth. Babies under a year do not need a pillow, quilt or duvet. Follow the ‘feet to foot’ practice and set them down with their feet to the foot of the cot so they avoid getting lost under bedcovers.
Safety whilst sleeping is as simple as child’s play, as long as you follow these simple guidelines.