The importance of sleep safety for babies

Safe sleep should be one of the first things parents are concerned about when creating their child’s sleep environment. It is vitally important and often neglected (forget about décor and theme for now!). Here are my top tips for safe sleep.

The most well-known facts:

  1. Always place your baby on his back to sleep, for naps and at night. The single most effective action parents can take to lower a baby’s risk of SIDS is to place the baby on his back. This is especially important for premature babies, who are at higher risk for SIDS.
  1. Keep the cot area clear. Don’t use pillows, blankets, sheepskins or crib bumpers anywhere in your baby’s sleep area. The same goes for soft objects, toys and loose bedding. If you feel your baby is cold, dress them appropriately and use a safe, tog-rated sleeping bag.
  1. Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered with a fitted sheet. Make sure that there is no space between the cot and mattress where your baby can get wedge in. 
  1. Beware of overheating your baby. The temperatures in South Africa, even in winter, are quite high. Overheating can increase your baby’s risks of SIDS. Use a safe tog-rated sleeping bag and cotton clothes. Fluffy baby blankets can keep heat in and make your child very uncomfortable.

“Treat your toddler’s room with the same respect and safety levels as you did for your baby’s cot and make their environments safe for them.”

The lesser-known safety risks I find are often associated with older babies and toddlers. Once we stop worrying about SIDS, we sometimes forget that it is NOT the only thing to worry about. 

  1. Remember not to put the monitor in your baby’s cot. There is electricity connected to it and mobile children can pull these appliances over, or even worse put it in their mouths. The monitor should be out of the cot and also out of reach.
  1. Move the cot to the lower level when your baby is about four or five months old. Babies are top heavy and as soon as they can look over the side they can fall out. Sitting up can happen very quickly! 
  1. The cot bumper can be used as leverage. Once your little one can stand, the cot bumper can pose a different risk. Babies can use it to leverage themselves over the side of cot. 
  1. Put things out of reach. When babies are small, it is great to have all the bum creams, medicines and creams on hand at the changing table or in their room. Make sure that when your baby/toddler stands up in their cot all these things are out of reach. Once they can move about alone in their room, these things should rather be stored in a safe cabinet in another room.Pictures on the wall, standing laps and decorations should be kept out of reach of the cot. The cot is for sleeping and not for playing, so rather move mobiles over to the changing area. As soon as babies can sit or stand, they can also pull down any mobiles.
  1. Keep in mind that once your child can move around, the room should be made safe. Loose furniture such as chairs and bookshelves will be used as crutches to stand up against and if these are unstable, they can fall over onto your little one.
  1. Due to safety reasons, the best time to move your toddler to a big bed is between two-and-a-half and three years. You don’t want your toddler to be able to roam around their room or your house while you’re sleeping. Treat your toddler’s room with the same respect and safety levels as you did for your baby’s cot and make their environments safe for them. Close the door or put a safety gate up so they aren’t able to go exploring on their own.

Also read:

Sleep training – setting the scene
5 steps to good sleep hygiene

SOURCEJolandi Becker – MD Good Night. References available on request.
As BabyYumYum’s exclusive sleep experts, Good Night specialises in all things sleep when it comes to babies and young children. Their sleep consultants are trained professionals who undergo strict screening and education processes. They believe in creating a start-to-finish solution for families. Good Night is associated with international associations and accredited by the South African Sleep Association.