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Safer sleep

Do you know, I don’t even have a baby (my youngest “baby” is 14 years old!) but I still get bombarded with social media ads for the latest “gadget” to aid safe sleep.

We know, just by a quick search online, that there are thousands of products on the market that are aimed to help your baby sleep longer and better. But babies are designed to wake frequently. They have very small tummies that need to be filled, day and night, and therefore they won’t sleep for the entire night for a long time! (Sorry!)

The Lullaby Trust say: “We know that greater awareness of safer sleep leads to a decrease in the numbers of babies dying. Sadly around 4 babies a week still die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and if all parents were aware of safer sleeping advice, many lives could be saved. Around 700,000 babies are born every year in the UK, and we need to continue to reach out to all new parents”.

So, the space that your baby needs to sleep in should NOT have any:

  • toys
  • cot bumpers
  • loose bulky bedding
  • pillows

The temptation in a bigger cot with a small baby is to “fill” the part where your baby doesn’t sleep. But this can lead to accidents. So only keep a mattress, sheet, and blanket or sleeping bag in your cot!

Baby pods or nests are not a safe space for your baby to sleep in. They currently don’t have a British Standard mark as a sleeping space. Make sure your baby is placed on their back, with their feet to the foot of the cot or crib and blanket tucked in under their arms, or in a sleeping bag.

Where does your baby need to sleep? Well preferably your baby should be in a crib or cot, appropriate to their size and age. For the first 6 months, this should be in your bedroom.

There are so many strange (and expensive) devices that are offered on the internet which aren’t necessary for a safe sleep. Your baby needs a safe, flat surface in an appropriately sized crib, Moses basket or cot. If you are buying second hand, always invest in a new mattress.

Safe co-sleeping is a whole other ball game so let’s go there now!

Co-sleeping is where your baby sleeps in the same bed or sleep space as you. Ideally once your baby has had their feed at night, they should be placed back into their cot or crib to sleep. We know though this can be exceptionally challenging when you are sleep deprived and your baby settles so well beside you. There are definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to safe co-sleeping. Some of the important points to remember are on’t share your bed if you or your partner have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, make sure no pillows or duvets can cover your baby, and never sleep on an armchair or sofa with you baby.

Please take a look at this Lullaby Trust video before you share a bed with your baby:

Safe sleeping is such a big topic, and you may have many questions. Please reach out to your health visiting team who are more than happy to discuss safe sleeping with you and answer any thoughts or concerns you may have. Visit our Safe Sleeping pages for more information.

About the author

Kirstie is the Professional Development Lead Health Visiting and Infant Feeding Lead for Berkshire Healthcare