Baby sleeping. It’s a minefield at times and everyone does it differently. Everyone.
I’d tell you there is no right or wrong way, but in reality that is just something we say to make ourselves feel better when we are doing it the “wrong way”… like me and Edith, with our unsafe co-sleeping methods in the early days. Despite knowing that we aren’t following the “guidelines” for everything, I stand firm in my belief that anything you can do that will give you the opportunity to get a decent (ish) sleep, is better than succumbing to such over tiredness you start to feel depressed, however there are certain things that really are a no-no and we need to make sure there is as much information out there as is humanly possible to prepare us for those moments when we are so tired that we might just make a mistake.
I’m collaborating with The Lullaby Trust who are introducing Little Lullaby, a new site dedicated to helping young parents, who are 4 times more likely to lose a baby to SIDs that someone over the age of 20. Isn’t that terrifying? I had Reuben at the tender age of 21 and when I look back, had it not been for my vast sleep safety training with Mothercare, I can only imagine that I would have made so many mistakes that could have ended with horrendous consequences.
The aim of the new site is to equip young mums and dads with the knowledge and tools they need to support each other, reducing isolation and improving emotional wellbeing, as well as promoting safer sleep advice that can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This isn’t some kind of “we know better than you” site – far from it. This is a helping hand that says, we know how hard parenting can be, we know that you want to do your best and we can help with that.
So what is the official line of safe sleeping? Here are some tips:
- DO NOT use quilts (yes even the one’s they sell in the baby section) or duvets for children under 1 year old..
- Optimum room temperature for a baby is ) between 16C and 20C. It can be difficult to judge room temperature so a thermometer can help – which if you are under 25 you can register for one for free here. It is also a good idea to see if your baby is too hot by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck and if their skin is hot or sweaty to remove one or more layers of bedclothes .
- Baby should always sleep on their back.
- No pillows until after the age of 1. Make sure you remove soft toys from the cot before each sleep.
- Bedding wise, you need to be using firmly tucked in sheets and blankets (not above shoulder height) or a baby sleeping bag are safe for a baby to sleep in. Sleeping bags will have instructions about the correct size and tog to use.
- Check your baby’s temperature by feeling the back of their neck or their tummy. If they are sweating or their skin feels hot to the touch, take off some of the bedding.
- Don’t worry if their hands or feet feel cool — this is normal. Don’t get too worried about following exact guidelines on the number of layers. Err on the side of your baby being cooler rather than warmer.
- Cot bumpers can pose the risk of an accident to your baby once they begin to roll and move about the cot. There have been a number of cases in the UK and abroad where babies have got entangled in the ties and material, or fallen from pulling themselves up on the bumpers.
- Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby.
- Moses baskets and cots in the same room as you are the safest places for a baby to sleep.
While widely regarded as a no-go, if you want to co-sleep or “bed share”, the main things to remember is that the above applies – no duvets and no pillows. On top of this, no smoking, drug use (even prescription) or alcohol. I can’t get across how dangerous any of those things could be. It’s such a big no!
Sometimes, even following every rule in the book can still end in heart breaking results – if we knew what causes SIDs we would be able to stop it, but we don’t and we can’t. All we can do is try our best to follow the guidelines that have been shown to reduce the risk.