Safe Sleep Environment
Your baby’s room should be a comfortable and safe sleep environment but sadly it can also pose a serious risk to your baby’s health. Every year around 300 babies in the UK die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the cot can also pose risks of strangulation, suffocation or entrapment. However, a few simple steps will make your baby’s sleep environment safe so you and your baby get a good night’s sleep. Follow our guide for some tips.
Ensure the environment is dark when you put your child to sleep. Darkness triggers the brain to release melatonin, a key sleep hormone. The shift from light to dark tells your child’s brain it’s time to sleep and it’s night time. Brightness, sunshine and direct light will then let your child know that they should “Rise and Shine.”
Many people think it’s important to keep baby’s room extra warm but this is not true. In fact, it’s better for your baby’s health if the room is slightly cool. Try to keep the temperature at around 18C/64F – in warm weather you can use a fan to lower the temperature.
A safe cot
When selecting a cot choose one with a firm mattress that is safety-approved and make sure it hasn’t been recalled for any safety issues. If you’re using a second-hand cot check it carefully for faults, damage or missing pieces, and don’t use it if it’s not in perfect working order. Young babies might be more comfortable in a crib or Moses basket – but don’t ever let your baby sleep on a regular bed, chair or sofa because there’s a high risk they will roll off and injure themselves.
Cover the crib mattress with a fitted sheet to reduce the chance that your baby will become tangled up with it in the night. Pillows, bumpers, sheepskins, comforters or quilts should not be used as they all pose a risk of suffocation, and toys should not be left in or near the sleeping area. Duvets can also be dangerous and may make your baby too warm. A sheet and one or two open weave blankets will help your baby moderate their temperature during the night. If your child is a wriggler a sleep sack will stop them throwing the covers off.
Unless your doctor has advised otherwise, you should always put your baby to sleep on their back as it is the safest position. Once your baby is older they will start rolling from back to front and back again – at this stage you should still place them in the cot on their back but don’t worry about putting them back when they roll as they are mobile enough to manage this themselves.
Up until the age of six months it’s a really good idea to have your baby’s cot or crib in your bedroom, as your room is safe sleep environment. Not only is it easier for you to soothe your baby in the night when the cot is so close, but research has found that the risk of SIDS in the first 6 months is reduced when the cot is in the parents’ bedroom
One answer – don’t. You should never smoke in the house or around your baby, even outdoors – and definitely not in their bedroom
By following the advice above you’ll be able to create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby. You might also find blackout curtains are useful, as they can help babies differentiate between night and day and settle quickly into a good bedtime routine, and white noise such as the hum of a fan can help your baby relax too.