How to create a safe sleeping environment for your baby
The way you make up your baby's bassinette or cot can help to keep him or her safe when sleeping. Here are some tips for safely making up a bassinette or cot:
- For a bottom sheet, use a fitted cot/bassinette sheet, or a sheet large enough to wrap all the way underneath the mattress to prevent it coming loose and entangling baby.
- Use a mattress protector to keep baby's mattress dry in case his or her nappy leaks. Keeping the mattress dry helps to inhibit the growth of fungus etc. inside the mattress. It also helps to regularly air out the mattress. The mattress protector should go between the mattress and the bottom sheet.
- Babies under one year old do not need a pillow. Pillows can be unsafe for small babies as they pose a small risk of suffocation. Many parents introduce pillows to their toddlers when moving them from a bed to a cot at around 18 months of age. You may wish to use a pillowcase or cloth nappy undeneath your baby's head to make cleaning up easier if they dribble or spill in their sleep.
Baby Sleep Advice:
- Make up the bassinette or cot so that baby's feet are around five centimetres from the bottom of the cot. This will look a little strange, as baby's head will be in the middle of the cot, but is the safest way for him or her to sleep as it prevents wriggling down underneath the blankets.
- Use cot or bassinette sheets and blankets to make up baby's bed. They are safer than a duvet. As a general guide, in summer baby will need a sheet and one thin banket over him or her, in the winter he or she will need a sheet and several thicker blankets. Turn the top of the sheet over the top of the blanket/s so that they are all sealed together. This helps prevent baby from becoming entangled in the layers of blankets.
- Cot bumpers are not recommended as baby's head may become trapped underneath one. They may be used as decoration at the head of the cot (with baby sleeping at the foot of the cot), but only until baby is old enough to begin moving around inside the cot, at which time they should be removed. It is safest not to use cot bumpers at all.
- There are a number of products available to assist your baby to sleep safely in his or her cot, such as sleep wraps, sleeping bags and foam wedges. Your midwife, Plunket nurse or local baby product retailer will be able to advise you on the pro's and con's of these.
For information on protecting your child against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, click here.