Getting pregnant and announcing that you are having a new baby is super exciting, isn’t it? You can’t wait to share the news with the world that you’re bringing a new person into it; half of you and half of the person that you love spliced together to create a little piece of magic right here on earth. The only downside to that announcement is the collective unsolicited advice you’re about to get from every matriarch in the family and every friend who’s ever had a child. They’re going to start hitting you with fact after fact and some of those are family facts rather than actual ones!
We know that meeting a child’s sleep needs are the most critical thing to do as a parent as well as ensuring that they’re well fed and safe. Sleep is a tricky subject among parents because it’s not just about the length of time your child sleeps at night time, it’s learning the safety tips for portable cribs when you’re traveling, and learning how to make sure that your child has a safe sleeping environment. There are a lot of factors to consider and the one thing that you need to have is safe, good quality sleep as much as possible for your baby. You are the person that plays one of the most important roles in whether your child is going to sleep without issues.
The one thing to remember here, though, is that as much as you need to sleep and your baby needs somewhere safe to do it, they won’t necessarily sleep all that much. It’s also important to know that this is normal and your baby doesn’t need to be trained into sleeping; it’s something they will come into in their own time. There are some safe sleep practices to consider when you have a new baby in the house and no matter the conversations you have with the many, many people around you, get to know the official safe sleep guidelines. These guidelines are important and the ‘I did it and I’m fine’ crowd don’t count in comparison. You and your partner make these decisions.
- Baby on their back. The advice fifty years ago was that babies should sleep on their tummies where possible, but the rising SIDs deaths and the research since has shown that a baby is much safer on their back than on their front. The surface on which the baby sleeps should be firm and flat, too, so no pillows or positioners, hammocks, etc. These bring the baby’s chin down to their chest and occludes the airway – and it’s something you want to avoid as this can prevent them from breathing.
- Remove the sleeping aids. Those beautiful looking Sleepyheads on the market today? Those are advertised as a way to make your baby feel as if they’re in a nest. The problem with them is that people have decided to use them in the cribs and cots, while ignoring the big letters on the front saying for supervised sleep. Do you know when your baby is not supervised? Overnight, while YOU are asleep. If you are gifted one, by all means use them for nap times while the baby is in the room with you. Overnight is a big no.
- Baby should be sleeping in your room. The research has shown that babies regulate their breathing with your breathing. Up to the age of six months, your baby should be in the same room as you, including the lounge, while they nap. Portable cribs are great for this reason, and you can make sure that your baby is sleeping safely, reducing their risk of SIDs at the same time.
- Rolling babies should never be wrapped. It’s nice to swaddle a newborn baby and help them with the transition from womb to world. When your baby starts rolling, stop wrapping! The last thing you need is for your baby to roll onto his front while his arms are trapped and not have the ability to roll back the other way. The safest thing to do is keep an eye on his development and make sure that you’re aware of how you are putting your baby down to sleep.
- Never use sleep positioners. From side positioners to head positioners, your baby really doesn’t need them. You can make sure that your baby is comfortable without holding them in a specific position. Babies are excellent wrigglers and they will wriggle away from those positioners, which can put them in danger. There is never a need for sleep positioners and you can avoid using them!
- Feet to foot. You might not know about this one, but if you have your baby in the crib with a blanket, you can keep them safe by making sure that the blanket is tucked under the mattress (so they can’t pull it up onto their face) and that their feet touch the foot of the cot board – this way, they can’t shuffle downwards.
- No hoods. Hooded pajamas may look really cute on the shelves, but there’s no need for them at bedtime. Hoods, drawstrings, ties, ribbons – they can become wrapped around your baby’s neck. Removing these is so important if you want your baby to sleep safely. Minimizing the risk is so important and your baby only needs their usual pajamas – nothing fancy.
- Buy a monitor. Even when the baby is in the same room as you, you need a monitor for after 6 months. When you put your baby down in another room, you’ll be able to hear them. You can sometimes see them, too, especially if you are going to buy video monitors. There are some fancy monitors that you can buy, too, that link room to room so you can watch your children no matter where you are in the house.
- An empty cot is a safe one. Your baby needs a sleep space free of loose covers, stuffed animals, dolls. You don’t need cot bumpers or cushions, as these are a suffocation risk. Your cot only needs a fitted sheet on the mattress, and while it may look pretty plain, it’s okay to have a plain sleep space. You can decorate the nursery to be beautiful!