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Safe Sleeping Tips

A safe sleeping environment means that all potential dangers have been removed and the baby is sleeping in a safe place. The ideal place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot, on a safe mattress, with safe bedding in a safe sleeping place, both night and day.

Keep baby’s cot away from hanging cords such as blinds, curtains, or electrical appliances as they could get caught around baby’s neck. Keep heaters or any electrical appliances well away from the cot to avoid the risk of overheating, burns and electrocution. Never use electric blankets, hot water bottles or wheat bags for babies.

Safe sleeping tips:

1. Put babies to sleep on their backs
This is the safest position for healthy babies. Babies are more likely to die of SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents if they sleep on their sides or tummies.

Once your baby can roll over (at around 4-6 months), keep putting your baby to sleep on their back, but let your baby find their own sleeping position.

2. Make sure babies’ heads or faces can’t get covered while they’re sleeping
Put your baby low down in the cot, so their feet are near the bottom end. Tuck in the bed sheets securely so they can’t cover baby’s head. You could use a safe infant sleeping bag instead of blankets.

3. Avoid smoking
There’s strong evidence that exposure to second-hand smoke harms babies, and that smoking during pregnancy and after birth increases the risk of SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. The link between SUDI and smoking is strong even when parents smoke away from their babies.

If you want to quit smoking and you’re finding it hard, call Quitline on 137 848. You could also speak to your GP or child and family health nurse.

4. Use a cot that meets current Australian safety standards
Only well-maintained cots built to strict safety standards are good enough for your baby. Cots that meet the standard will have a clear label – AS/NZS 2172 for cots and AS/NZS 2195 for portable cots.

5. Share a room
Room-sharing is when your baby sleeps in their own cot next to your bed. This is recommended for the first 6 to 12 months of your baby’s life.

This can help you to:

  • respond quickly to your baby’s needs
  • settle and comfort your baby more conveniently than if sleeping in a separate room
  • bond with your baby
  • maintain breastfeeding
  • reduce the risk of your baby dying from SUDI including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or fatal sleep accidents.

6. Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding reduces by more than half the risk of SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. Regardless of whether your baby is breastfed or bottle-fed, it’s still very important to follow safe sleeping practices.

7. Don’t use cot bumpers, soft toys, pillows, doonas, mattress padding, sheepskin or lamb’s wool where your baby sleeps
Babies can suffocate or overheat by rolling into or being covered by these soft objects.

8. Use a firm and well-fitting mattress
Make sure there are no gaps between the mattress and the edge of the cot, where your baby’s head could get jammed. If you’re using a portable cot, use only the firm, thin, well-fitting mattress that comes with it. Don’t add a second mattress.

9. Don’t sleep baby on couches or makeshift bedding
Sleeping on a couch, with or without someone else, is very dangerous for babies.

Also take care with makeshift bedding. Situations where your baby might be in danger include getting wedged between a mattress and a wall, getting stuck between pillows or cushions, or slipping under loose blankets. It’s also not recommended to leave a baby sleeping in a pram unsupervised.

10. Dress your baby in clothing that’s warm, but not hot
Overheating is a risk factor for SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. A handy tip is to think about what you’d wear to bed and use that as a guide. If you use an infant sleeping bag that’s appropriate for your baby’s sleep environment, you don’t need sheets or blankets over the top. Keep your baby’s head and face uncovered – this allows your baby to cool and not overheat. Don’t worry if your baby’s hands and feet feel cool – that’s normal.

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