To ensure that your baby has a safe environment in which to sleep there are a number of things which you need to take into consideration. The cot, the room temperature, the bedding and the positioning of your baby are all important factors that you will need to monitor. The following guidelines taken from various sources including fsid and government papers will help you to be informed and avoid any potential hazards.
For the first 6 months you should arrange it so that you can always be in the same room as your baby when he is asleep so that you may keep a close eye on him.
Whether you opt for a cot, basket or cotbed you need to ensure that basic construction safety standards are met, these include making sure that there are no spaces in which your baby could get stuck, ensuring that the bed is sturdy and that no toxic or lead based varnish or paint is used.
The mattress you choose is important and the general recommendation is that you get a new one. If you do get one second hand then you need to ensure that it is firm and that it fits the baby's cot snugly, there should be no gaps around the edges. It should not have any tears or cracks, there should be no sagging and it should be clean and dry.
When you have a safe sleeping environment set up for your baby then this is where he should sleep, avoid letting your baby sleep on a sofa, bean bag, water bed or pillow etc.
When your baby is very young do not put toys in the cot with him, although they are great fun when your baby is awake they pose a risk of accidental smothering or causing overheating when they are asleep.
Babies do not need heat or hot rooms in which to sleep, the ideal temperature is between 16-20 degrees Celsius (61-68 degrees Fahrenheit). This may seem cool to many of us and so if you are unsure it may be worth getting a thermometer. As a general rule, if you are feeling comfortable in light clothing then the room will be plenty warm enough for your baby.
Do not put your baby to sleep: -
All night heating is rarely necessary and central heating should only be used if it is controlled by a thermostat.
Babies need to lose excess heat from their heads and so it is important to make sure that the top of their head is not covered up - remove hats, hoods or any extra clothing.
To check if your baby is too hot look for sweating or feel either their neck or their tummy, do not check using their hands or feet as it is normal for these to feel cool. When the room is hot you can cool it by closing the curtains and opening the windows in the day.
In hot weather offer your baby lots to drink and if it is particularly hot then sponge them down regularly with tepid water. If you use a fan do not face it directly at your baby.
Always put your baby to sleep on his back - never on his tummy or side. Typically after 5-7 months they will begin to roll onto their sides, this is natural and at this stage it is not necessary to reposition them, but you can gently turn your baby onto its back at convenient times if you wish.
The recommended position in which to place a baby is 'feet to foot'. When your baby's feet are touching the foot of the cot the covers should reach no higher than your baby's shoulders. By securely tucking the blankets and sheets under the mattress it will make it difficult for your baby to wriggle down under the covers. You could alternatively use a baby sleeping bag.
For baby's under 12 months old do not use duvets, quilts or pillows and keep the cot free of blankets and stuffed toys. Never use hot water bottles or electric blankets.
You should use either a cotton sheet with light layers of cotton blankets or a baby sleeping bag. If you are using blankets then they should be tucked in firmly and be no higher than the baby's shoulders. To regulate your baby's temperature you can either add or remove blankets.
If you are using a sleeping bag then it should be lightweight, made from cotton and not have a hood. Make sure that it is not so tight around the baby's neck that he could slip down into it. To regulate your baby's temperature when using sleeping bags you can switch to either higher or lower togs.
During the summer months it may not be necessary to use any bedclothes at all.
Until recently there were concerns that bumpers could cause a baby to overheat but research has shown this not to be the case. If you have bumpers make sure that there are no trailing strings or ties attached that could entangle your baby or that they could use to climb out of the cot. Make sure that they are secured properly and that they allow for adequate air flow. The advice from experts is that bumpers should be removed when a baby can either get up onto their hands or knees or when they can sit unaided.
The opinions for co-sleeping are varied but many experts believe there are enough risks for it to be considered dangerous. Having your baby in the bed with you for feeding and play is fine but it is best not to sleep with your baby in the bed (or armchair or settee).
You should especially avoid having your baby sleep in the same bed with you if: -
Having your baby in a cot next to the bed is the ideal position as it allows you to check on him during the night.
More Safety Advice