As new parents, we can often get caught up in the Instagram-worthy look of our nursery, or fandangled contraptions marketed as sleep-saviours. However, the most important thing you can do for your little human is to ensure their sleep environment is set up safely to reduce the risk of SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death of Infant). Here is our ultimate guide to follow, to ensure your babe will be sleeping safely and soundly, giving you peace of mind, too!
- From Bassinet to Cot
- Air Temperature and Quality
- Sleep Aids
- Cot Climbing
- Transitioning to a big bed
From Bassinet to Cot
Providing a safe sleeping environment is an important consideration for parents. Red Nose recommends that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot in the parents’ room for the first 6-12 months of life. It is recommended that a bassinet type product should be used for a short period only. Once baby becomes active and starts to roll, the baby should be moved into a safe cot.
Safe cot checklist
- Use a safe cot that meets the current Australian Standard AS2172
- Use a safe mattress that is: firm, clean, flat and the right size for the cot
- Sleep baby on their back
- Keep head and face uncovered
- Position baby’s feet at the bottom of the cot
- Use a tight fitted sheet only, that tucks under the mattress
- Use a safe baby sleeping bag
Do not use anywhere in or within reach of the cot or a bassinet: pillows, doonas, soft toys, cot bumpers, lambswool, loose blankets, blinds, cords, heaters, teething jewellery or mobiles.
Refer to Red Nose recommendations for further information about safe-sleep cots; rednose.org.au/article/how-to-make-up-babys-cot
While there are no Australian standards for bassinets, the most common cause of injury or death in a bassinet are falls and suffocation. Do not use a car-seat capsule, bouncer, lounger or baby swing as a bassinet replacement. Bassinets should be large enough to sleep baby flat on back on a firm mattress, have sides that come up 300m above mattress top and allow free air flow, be stable and grounded.
Refer to the ACCC website about choosing a safe-sleep bassinet; productsafety.gov.au/products/babies-kids/kids-furniture/bassinettes
ergoPouch Swaddles, Sleeping Bags , Sleep Suit Bags and Sleep Onesies are designed to replace bedding altogether, whilst keeping your little ones body temperature optimal for sleep. To ensure the face is always clear, ergoPouch sleepwear is designed to avoid unravelling, have suitable armholes and a fitted neck. It’s for the same reason there are no hoods on our bags. Our fitted sheets fit smoothly over a cot mattress and provide a soft cosy base for your baby to rest on.
Air Temperature and Quality
Depending on the season and whether it is sweltering or freezing cold outside, we are likely to use air conditioning or heating to create more comfortable temperatures inside our homes.
Winter brings with it dry air, made worse by the heating systems we use to keep our house warm. This dry air can cause discomfort and waking during sleep by irritating sensitive airways, worsening congestion and coughs from colds, and creating flare-ups of eczema-prone skin. Enter, natural sleeping fibres for breathability. You may also consider using a safe-sleep vaporiser for optimal air humidity.
Summer temps cause us to use air conditioning to maintain a more comfortable environment in our homes. Consider if air conditioning or fans are causing a chill or breeze around your little one and adjust their sleep layers accordingly.
The ideal temperature for a nursery whilst sleeping is 18-20 degrees. We know that’s not achievable for everyone, so our TOG rated range or sleepwear ensures your baby is dressed appropriately for varying temperatures. Follow the ergoPouch What to Wear Temperature Guide to dress baby safely for sleep, avoiding overheating and under-dressing.
Co-sleeping - safety aspects to be aware of with sleepwear
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest place for babies to sleep is: on their own sleep surface (i.e. in their own bassinet, cot etc), within sensory range of the parent (i.e. within range to hear, smell and be aware of the parent).
There have been many studies relating to safety when sleeping on the same sleep surface as your baby. Not all parents elect to sleep with their baby, however if you breastfeed and lie down with your baby, it’s highly likely you may drift off to sleep. Therefore, always create a safe bed sharing environment in advance:
- Baby needs to have their arms free, so not wrapped
- Sleep baby on their back at all times
- Ensure they are clear of adult bedding, including pillows.
- Factor your own body temperature when considering what to dress baby in for sleep.
- Position your baby so they can’t fall from the bed, but be mindful that babies can become trapped between the mattress and wall.
- Sleep baby on a firm mattress, so if you have a soft padded mattress, then your bed is not a safe place to sleep your baby
- Tie back parents’ long hair
- Do not allow baby to sleep with animals or other children
Read more here; A Guide to Safe Sleep and on the Red Nose website; rednose.org.au/news/red-nose-advice-to-parents-following-recent-co-sleeping-acccident-in-perth
Sleep Aids - how to introduce and use them safely and from what age
A comforter is a soft toy or a small blanket that your baby will use to help settle themselves for sleep, also known as a ‘security blanket’. As babies can get fussy and upset around bedtime, milestone developments and periods of uncertainty, introducing a comforter will help to soothe and support your baby through developmental changes. Comforters also serve as a best friend to accompany your child on sleepovers, day-care, long car trips, and more!
A baby should be at a certain age and developmental level before you can safely leave a comforter with them for sleeping, in their cot. Read more here: Introducing a Comforter
If you've got a climber on your hands, the solution is our award-winning Sleep Suit Bag in 'legs' mode. Don't be tempted to keep them in a sleeping bag and restrict their legs. It's safer to give your child the ability to use their legs to stabilise themselves for a safer ‘landing’ in the event they do manage to clamber over the top. Once your child starts cot climbing, it is time to transition to a big bed.
In leg mode, our Sleep Suit Bag:
- Gives leg freedom for comfort and safety
- Can reduce the chance of injury should they climb over the cot
- Can aid in the transition to a big bed
- Will maintain warmth without the need for extra blankets, ensuring safer sleep.
- Can be worn backwards for the little ones who can undo their zippers.
- Comes in four TOG ratings, meaning minimal sleep disruptions as the seasons change.
Transitioning to a big bed
When your little human is ready for their first big bed they may need some time to adjust to sleeping underneath sheets. To keep them warm we suggest trying our Winter Onesie. Available in 2.5 and 3.5 TOG, this padded & zipped onesie is ideal for keeping your wriggly toddler warm and comfortable while they dream the night away.
Whilst you don’t need to use blankets when wearing the Winter Onesie, you may consider using a sheet, while they learn to pull the sheet up. Once they’ve gotten used to pulling sheets up, they can transition to blankets and pyjama’s as needed for the temperature in their room (no sooner than 3 years old).
When removing the sides from a cot or transitioning to a toddler bed or big bed, you may choose to start with a mattress on the floor, or consider a safety rail to prevent falls out of bed in the night. Safety Rails must have no spaces between bars or panels bigger than 95mm to prevent a young child to becoming trapped.
Introducing a flat, small pillow into the bed (no sooner than 2 years old according to Red Nose guidelines) can help your child to learn to keep their body in one place in a big bed.
Now that your mini is in a big bed, they have access to other areas of the house during sleep times. Consider how safe the rest of their room and house is, in the event they wander out. Red Nose have some great guidelines to review to help you with this. https://rednose.org.au/article/making-your-home-safe-before-moving-a-child-from-a-cot-to-a-bed