Tucking your baby in for a sleep can be worrying, especially if you’re a new mum. But follow a simple set of rules and your little one will enjoy a comfortable and safe snooze
When your baby sleeps, you need to sleep or else you’ll never get any rest. And while being tired is par for the course for new mums, you need to try and make sure you get as much sleep as possible and aren’t kept awake because you’re checking she’s still breathing every two minutes.
There are a number of ways you can make sure your baby sleeps safely in her cot to help put your mind at ease.
Sleep safe position
The number one cot rule is to always place your baby on her back to sleep – this applies for at least the first six months.
‘Do this as part of a regular sleep routine, unless medically advised not to,’ says The Lullaby Trust’s head of advice Jenny Ward. ‘If your baby has rolled onto her tummy or side, you can gently turn her back again.’
Once your baby has learned to roll from her front to her back on her own, she can be left to find her own comfortable sleeping position. Place your baby in the feet-to-foot position in her cot so she can’t wriggle down under the blankets.
Wrapped up warm
Using blankets to keep your baby warm doesn’t have to pose a risk. Use a firm, flat and waterproof baby mattress covered with a single sheet and tuck her in securely with lightweight covers.
‘Sheets and blankets should be no higher than shoulder height, and firmly tucked in so that no bedding can cover your baby’s face or head,’ Jenny says. Normally one layer and her babygrow should be fine.
Using blankets to keep your baby warm doesn’t have to pose a risk
The right temperature
Your baby rarely needs all-night heating – just make sure the temperature of the room is comfortable for you (normally around 18°C) and it should be fine for your little one, too.
‘Room temperature is important because babies cannot regulate their own temperatures,’ says Jenny. ‘And overheating is a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).’
You can use a baby room thermometer to check that the room is between 16-20°C. Every baby is unique and will have a slightly different internal thermometre, so, check your baby from time to time to make sure that she isn’t too hot or too cold.
‘Look for sweating or feel her tummy or the back of her neck to see if she’s hot. Your baby’s hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal,’ Jenny explains. If your baby is hot, remove one or more layers.
What to avoid
Keep your baby’s cot as simple as possible when she sleeps and clear of loose items that could topple in the night.
‘Pillows, bumpers and that favourite teddy should be left to one side,’ says Jenny. ‘Co-sleeping is not risk free, so it’s best to avoid it. The Department of Health advises that the safest place for a baby to sleep is on their backs, in a room with their parents, for the first six months.’