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Expert Advice

The best safe sleeping practices for babies

Providing a safe sleeping environment for babies can literally be a matter of life and death.

By Rebel Wylie
Safe sleeping techniques and the education efforts behind Red Nose Day have reduced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related deaths by 85 percent.
Providing a safe sleeping environment for babies can literally be a matter of life and death.
Sydney's sleep expert Cheryl Fingleson from Cheryl the Sleep Coach says: "Whilst we are not in the business of scaring new parents, who are already overwhelmed by the birth of their new baby, it's vitally important that everyone is reminded of the need to put baby to bed safely."
Over the past 25 years we have seen a dramatic decline of infant deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
This is in part due to the fantastic educational efforts of initiatives such as Red Nose Day, and the community response to expert messages advising them on safe sleep techniques.
"It is imperative that babies and toddlers get the right amount of sleep, and that they sleep safely," says Cheryl Fingleson.
"It is vital for growth, development, health and happiness. I always advise my clients' to take control of their babies' sleep safety straight away. There are plenty of tools available to improve sleep and settling.
"And if parents can't do it alone, there is plenty of professional help on hand too. Don't be afraid to ask for help!"
Sleep coach, Cheryl Fingleson says parents should know that they don't have to feel like they're struggling through the journey on their own, and can always get help from a trained professional. (Image: Supplied)

Sleep coach, Cheryl Fingleson's safe sleeping tips

Fingleson reminds new parents that there are some simple but proven tools to keep baby secure, warm and safe as he or she learns the challenging art of sleeping well.
1. Sleep baby on their back from birth – never on their tummy or side
  • Babies up to one year of age should always be placed on their back to sleep during naps and at night.
  • If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling, she should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible.
  • Swaddling is a proven method of calming a crying or fussy baby. Place the wrapped baby at the bottom of the cot with his feet almost touching the bottom railing.
2. Use appropriate bedding
  • When using bedding, put baby's feet at the end of the cot then only bring bedding up to the chest.
  • Never allow the baby's face to become covered.
  • When using a sleeping bag, make sure it is the right size for your baby and the right thermal rating for the season.
WATCH: Baby sleep & settling by Bounty. Continues after video ...
3. Avoid exposing baby to tobacco smoke before and after birth
  • If you smoke, try to quit. And if you can't, keep your car and home smoke-free. Never smoke anywhere near your baby, even if you are outside.
4. Sleep baby in the same room, but not in the same bed
  • If it works for both baby and parents, room sharing is a safe thing to do.
  • Keep the cot or bassinet within an arm's reach of your bed. You can easily watch or breastfeed your baby by having your baby nearby.
  • It is not ideal to sleep in the same bed as a newborn. This places them at greater risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. Parents can roll onto babies during sleep, or babies can get tangled in the sheets or blankets.
It's a good idea to keep the cot or bassinet within an arm's reach of your bed. (Image: Getty Images)
5. Provide a safe sleeping environment for baby night and day.
  • The cot, bassinet, porta-cot, and mattress should meet current safety standards. Never use a cot that is broken or has missing parts.
  • Cover the mattress with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and fitted sheet.
  • Never put your baby to sleep on a play rocker, a water-bed, a cushion, or a sheepskin.
  • Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and stuffed toys are risky and should not be left in the unattended cot of a young baby.
  • Don't allow baby to become too hot.

Products to help with peace of mind

In addition to following the latest safe sleeping recommendations, investing in any one of the clever units that monitor your child while they sleep will give you a little extra peace of mind.
You could consider a video baby monitor, a baby vitals monitor, a wifi baby monitor or one of the many other kinds on the market. There's just so many ways to keep an eye and ear on your little one while they're in their cot!
See the winners of the Bounty Baby Awards - Best Baby Monitor here.
We recently road-tested the Owlet Cam and Owlet Smart Sock 2 which are designed to notify you if something appears to be wrong, bringing baby monitoring into the modern era.
The Owlet Smart Sock 2 tracks your baby's heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep. (Image: Owlet)
So simple to set up, the combo of the Owlet Cam and the Owlet Smart Sock 2 mean that parents get the kind of monitoring that previously would have meant sitting beside the cot and staring throughout their entire sleep.
The cam not only lets you keep an eye on bub with HD 1080p video with night vision that streams direct to your phone via secure encrypted WIFI, it also packs a handy two-way audio feature which lets you console bub even as you make your way back to them from other areas of the house. A super handy feature when you have more than one child at home that needs looking after.
Combine the cam with the uber-monitoring capabilities of the Smart Sock 2 and you could not possibly know any more about your baby as they sleep. This genius idea is a soft, washable sock that wraps around your baby's foot to track their heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep. It sends the information to a base station and you're notified if your baby's heart rate or oxygen levels fall outside the preset zone.
The three sock sizes in the pack are designed to grow with your bub right up to 18 months so you can monitor your child's sleep well beyond the infant years. The best part is how unobtrusive they are. Your baby won't even know they're wearing this cute little spewer.
For more ideas on the best products for baby, see the 2019 Baby Awards Winners here.

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