What is a safe sleeping environment for your baby?

By Jane Wiggill RN, Red Nose Chief Midwife, Red Nose Australia

Red Nose understands it can be confusing for parents to know what a safe or unsafe sleep environment is.

While we always recommend sleeping your baby in a safe sleeping environment, we are often asked, what does this actually mean?

Simply put, a safe sleeping environment means that all potential dangers have been removed and the baby is sleeping in a safe place for both day and night sleeps.

Soft surfaces and bedding, including bulky or loose blankets, head coverings, toys and cot bumpers, are an unsafe sleeping environment that can increase the risk of SIDS. This is because soft bedding can cover your baby’s face and obstruct their breathing, and may cause overheating.

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot on a safe mattress, with safe bedding.

A safe sleeping environment is one where your baby is sleeping in a safe cot that meets Australian standards, on a firm, flat surface. If a blanket is being used, ensure your baby is placed with their feet at the end of the cot, with the blanket tucked securely underneath the mattress, so it can only ride up as far as baby’s chest and cannot cover their head.

Red Nose Australia’s evidence-based safe sleeping practices are:
- Sleep your baby on his back from birth, not on his tummy or side
- Sleep your baby with his face and head uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free before and after birth
- Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
- Sleep your baby in a safe cot in the same room as you for the first six to twelve months
- Breastfeed if you can

Red Nose offers free safe sleeping advice to new and expectant parents. Check our website for more information, at: rednose.org.au/safe

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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