Little Routines, Gillian Stewart

Safe Sleep
Gillian Stewart, Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is something none of us really want to talk about. It is rare but it can happen. We still don't really know the causes but we do know that through being aware of the correct baby care, and that includes safe sleeping, numbers have significantly reduced.
Babies are completely dependent on us for all their needs in the early weeks and years. 

There are many ways you can help and teach your baby safely but still allowing them to explore their world. We mustn't be too over protective. Babies need to find out for themselves. Our job is to make their environment as safe as we can.
It is about carrying out the advice but making sure it sits comfortably with you and your family.
Sleep is a very important part of your baby's routine and babies do spend a lot of time asleep. We need to make their sleeping environment as safe as possible.
Babies should be put to sleep on their backs at the foot of their cot, Moses basket and pram, with a cotton cellular blanket for cover tucked below their shoulders, or using an appropriate sleeping bag. The mattress should be a new and well supporting one.
Babies should always sleep in their own bed. I know how easy it can be to bring your baby into bed with you when your baby won't settle and you are just so tired you can barely stand upright. The risks to your baby are huge from over heating and suffocation. Please don't be tempted. Ask for some help.
Self settling is one of the key things to teach your baby. You can do this from as early as day one. Once you have achieved this, there will be very few occasions when you will be tempted to sleep with your baby.
The ideal room temperature for your baby to sleep in is between 16-20ºC. Check carefully the tog rating if you are using a sleeping bag. There will also be information on how many layers your baby will require. Babies are unable to regulate their own body temperature. This means they can overheat very easily.
Never cover your baby's head at night when they are sleeping. Hats can so easily move across a baby's face as they turn their heads. A baby's head is also one of the many areas where they loose body heat. Using a hat at night can cause them to easily overheat and this is extremely dangerous.
As all babies are different, a simple way to check if your baby is warm enough is to just place your hand directly on their tummy. Don't worry about hands and feet as they will always be cooler. Look out for your baby feeling sweaty.
Remember too that an unwell baby may need fewer layers.
Keep their sleeping area free from toys and padded bumpers. There is a breathable Airwrap cot bumper on the market which is safe to use.
Both parents should not smoke during pregnancy and after the birth. Your baby should be kept in a smoke free environment.
I am sure you all know that breastfeeding your baby has many advantages. Breastfeeding will always be linked to good practise. But we also all know that it isn't always possible.
You, as a parent, must do what you feel is best for you and your baby. A happy mummy is a happy baby.
Not everything from the list of do's and do not's is possible but be aware of them and carry as many of them out as you are able.
At the end of the day you must trust your decisions and you must trust your baby. You cannot watch your baby every minute whilst he or she is asleep. 
Don't worry too much. Enjoy your baby as time passes very quickly. As soon as your baby is able to turn his or her head and roll from side to side, he or she will be able to find their own comfortable sleeping position and this is perfectly safe.
Plenty of tummy time during the day will encourage them to reach this milestone sooner.
We all need plenty of good quality, safe sleep. 
Sleep tight mummies and sleep tight babies. Sweet dreams.

More information can be found on the Lullaby Trust website

I can also offer you advice, help  and reassurance if you have any concerns with your baby's sleeping.