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Safe Sleep for Babies

When it comes to infant safety, a baby’s sleeping environment is frequently at the top of the

list of concerns for new parents and caregivers. Creating a safe sleep environment for a

baby involves careful attention to several factors, from their sleep position and surface to

monitoring baby’s temperature and safety of their cot. As infants lack the strength to move

themselves away from any potential hazards, it’s imperative to maintain an environment

where a baby’s airways cannot be inhibited or compromised in any way. We outline key

areas to address to ensure a baby’s sleep safety is maximised.


Cot Safety


The ideal place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot or bassinet. You should never place a baby

to sleep or for a nap on surfaces such as sofas, cushions, or adult beds. A soft mattress or

sleep surface can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).


Ensure the cot or bassinet is assembled correctly and that there are no gaps between the

mattress and the sides of the cot where a baby’s limbs could get caught. Infant and nursery

products are regulated in terms of the size of gaps and openings that are permitted.


  • Ensure your chosen cot complies with Australian Safety Standard AS2172

  • Check the manufacturer details and that products include proper usage information

  • Check size and age suitability of product

  • Comply with all product safety warnings

  • Regularly assess the product's suitability and condition

  • Never use ill-fitting mattresses or add extra mattresses to travel cots

  • Don’t use damaged or incomplete products


It’s important to note, that you should never use a cot made before 2013. Safety standards

have been significantly improved and new safety standards have been published.


Bassinets


Bassinets are suitable for use only until an infant begins to roll over, so they are typically

used for the initial months. As soon as a baby shows signs of pushing themselves up or

rolling, it’s time to transition to a cot.


Ensure the bassinet has breathable sides that allow good airflow. This is essential to keep

your baby comfortable and safe and promote optimal ventilation during sleep.


Mattress


Use a firm, flat mattress that fits snugly in the cot. The mattress should fit tightly, leaving no

gaps where a baby could get trapped. To assist with ensuring there are no gaps, mattress

bases must be stamped with a recommended mattress size.


The mattress should be covered with a mattress protector, fitted sheet, and nothing else.

Avoid using soft bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals, as these can pose suffocation risks. A

minimalist approach is best for your baby’s sleep environment.


Check for hazards




A safe cot is free from hazards. Keep the cot and sleep area free from any items that could

entangle, trap, or obstruct a baby’s airways. This includes toys, loose blankets, and bumper

pads.


Regularly check the cot for any loose parts or damage and avoid placing it near window

blinds or curtain cords, which can pose strangulation risks.


Sleep position


According to Red Nose Australia, placing a baby to sleep on their back is the safest position.

This ensures that the baby’s airways remain open and reduces the risk of SIDS. This risk

reduction is attributed to the fact that healthy babies sleeping on their backs have a lower

likelihood of choking on their vomit compared to those who sleep on their stomachs.


Bedding


Babies should sleep on their backs with their faces and heads uncovered. One effective

method to ensure this is by using a safe infant sleeping bag or swaddle, which are

specifically designed for infants with a fitted neck, and no hood.


Temperature and Environment


Overheating is a risk factor for SIDS, so keep an eye on the baby’s body temperature by

feeling their chest or back, rather than hands or feet. If they feel warm, are sweating, or are

short of breath, these could be signs baby is overheating and clothing and sleepwear may

need to be adjusted. If you feel your baby is shivering or showing signs of being too cold,

ensure you have dressed your baby correctly according to the room temperature and adjust

the TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rating of your baby’s sleepwear as necessary.


Newborns struggle to regulate their body temperature efficiently, relying mainly on their

face and head to do so. Therefore, it's critical to ensure that a baby’s face and head remain

uncovered while they sleep. This means babies shouldn’t wear a beanie or head covering of

any type for sleep. This practice helps to avoid the dangers of overheating and minimises

the risk of suffocation.


Maintaining a smoke-free environment for your baby, both before and after birth, is

essential for their health and wellbeing. Ensuring that baby's sleep space is free from any

smoke exposure can also reduce the risk of SIDS.


Sharing Parents room


Sharing a room with baby for the first 6-12 months is recommended for their safety. Having

baby’s cot or bassinet in the parent or caregiver’s room allows monitoring the baby easier

and night-time feeding and soothing more convenient. However, it’s important to avoid

bed-sharing, as it increases the risk of suffocation and entrapment. A baby should always

have their own safe sleep space.


By complying with safety standards and recommendations, parents and caregivers can help

create a secure sleep environment that significantly reduces the risk of SIDS and other

sleep-related hazards. Prioritising these practices not only aligns with INPAA standards but

also helps provide peace of mind.

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