Safe sleeping for newborns and babies is so important for new parents to know. From the first second you find out you are pregnant, you start to worry… and as you can imagine, the worry increases dramatically when bub is actually born! This is called mother guilt and quite frankly, worrying it is a reality of motherhood.
So much focus is put on the day of birthing your baby. Sometimes we forget that we are going to be left in charge of these mini people. That’s why I teach parents to be how to safely sleep and swaddle their bubs. So let’s get into it…
SUDI, SIDS and Fatal Sleeping Accidents:
SUDI is the Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy. This includes both fatal sleep accidents and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Fatal sleeping accidents occur when babies suffocate, get trapped or strangled by things in their sleep. Where as; SID’S is when investigators can not find the cause of death. You may have also heard of the more informal terms – ‘cot death’ and ‘crib death’.
Overall, the rate of SUDI deaths in Australia has decreased by around 85% since risk reduction campaigns were introduced. This is a HUGE amount and is exactly why it’s so important that we keep spreading education on safe sleeping for newborns and babies. To increase awareness and save as many babies lives as possible.
What are the recommendations for safe sleeping for newborns?
SIDS and Kids recommends:
1. Sleep baby on their back
The safest place and position for your baby is on the back, not on the tummy or side. Healthy babies placed on their back to sleep are less likely to choke. Swaddling is a great way to ensure babies stay on their back and don’t role around.
2. Always ensure bubs head and face are uncovered.
Put your baby at the bottom of the bassinet or cot and make sure you tuck in any blankets in firmly so they don’t come loose and move over bubs face.
3. No extra’s in the bed
Do not have a pillow, soft toy, cot bumper, lamb’s wool or a doona in the cot. These are all things that can obstruct breathing and are one of the main causes of SIDS.
4. Keep baby smoke free
SIDS is more common in babies who are regularly exposed to smoke. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after. It’s simple: don’t smoke around children.
5. Don’t co-sleep with baby
Have bub sleep in their own safe sleeping place, in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months. SIDS and Kids recommend sleeping a baby in a cot next to the parents’ bed for the first six to twelve months of life.
6. Breastfeed if you can.
According to research, breastfeeding babies more than halves the chances of a baby dying suddenly and unexpectedly. I want to acknowledge that breastfeeding isn’t always easy. If you can’t breastfeed, remember that fed is best whether it’s bottle or breast! For more on breastfeeding, check out our blog post – Breastfeeding 101 with Birth Beat.
7. The cot matters
Choose a safe cot which meets Australian Standard AS2172. Ensure the mattress is firm, clean, flat and right size for cot. There are some super cute cots out there just not safe for many reasons e.g. bars that are far enough apart that baby could get stuck. Bubs health comes before aesthetic!
How to help bub feel safe:
As a midwife, I always get asked “Will I…
a) create bad habits?
b) spoil my baby?
The answer? No and no. Since when did needing love or cuddles become a bad habit? Your baby needs touch and movement to help their tiny brain develop healthy connections and structures for later learning and appropriate emotional responses; they need reassurance and responsiveness to help them develop trust and a strong connection with you –that lasts a lifetime. They are learning, you are there for them, you are their safe person. It’s okay to attend to bub if they are crying at night, they just want their safe person. They can come to you whether they are a baby, a toddler a school aged child or a teenager and you will listen and help them.
There are so many guides and books telling you what to do. My best advice is to go easy on yourselves. Be kind to each other. A baby that is not sleeping much leads to an often tired and grumpy household. If this is your first baby, try to rest when they rest in the day. I remind my Mumma’s that a baby is not going to know if the housework is avoided, they will be secure happy little people if you replace vacuuming with cuddles.
Do what feels right for you and your family unit. Please remember that safe sleeping for newborns is super important and you can not spoil a newborn. Love and enjoy your bundles of joy. I promise you, before you know it they are so big and too busy for cuddles!