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The Red Nose guide to safe sleep



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Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 5 mins read

You’ve likely participated in Red Nose Day – an annual event where we are encouraged to “get silly for a serious cause.” The fundraiser is run by Red Nose Australia – an organisation that works tirelessly to reduce the rate of sudden infant deaths.

The devastating reality is that 3000 babies pass away in Australia each year – and these deaths are often preventable.

Red Nose seeks to educate parents on safe sleeping practices for themselves during pregnancy and their infants once they are born, as well as providing crucial support and resources for parents who have lost little ones.

Here are ways you can reduce the risk of SIDS or SUID, according to Red Nose Australia.

Safe sleep environment 

Red Nose Australia recommends that babies sleep in their own safe space where all potential dangers have been removed.

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot, such as the Joey by Koala Kookaburra Cot, on a safe, firm mattress, such as the Joey by Koala Baby Mattress. If you choose to use a bassinet for the first 6 months, it should not be tilted and should have a firm flat mattress, sides that permit airflow and a stable base.


Additionally, you must keep your baby’s cot away from hanging cords such as blinds, curtains, or electrical appliances as they could get caught around baby’s neck.

Keep heaters or any electrical appliances well away from the cot to avoid the risk of overheating, burns and electrocution. Never use electric blankets, hot water bottles or wheat bags for babies.

Red Nose also recommends that the safest place for the cot is in the parents’ room, next to their bed for the first 6 months. This is so you can monitor baby’s sleeping and be close in case something does go wrong.

Your baby’s sleep environment should always be kept smoke free – even before they are born.

Do not put additional items into your baby’s cot 

If a blanket is being used, Red Nose recommends that you place your baby with their feet at the end of the cot, and tuck the blanket securely underneath the mattress, so it only reaches baby’s chest and cannot ride up to cover their head.

Do not add quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins or any other loose items as these can significantly increase the risk of SUDI (Sudden unexpected death in infancy) to your baby.

Soft surfaces and bedding, including bulky or loose blankets, head coverings and toys should also be avoided as they can increase the risk of SIDS and SUDI through blocking their airways or causing them to overheat.

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Always place baby to sleep on their back 

Placing baby on their back to sleep helps keep their airway clear and ensures their protective reflexes work. Back sleeping reduces the risk of suffocation, overheating and choking.

When a baby sleeps on his or her stomach, the oesophagus is elevated above the baby’s upper airways. If a baby regurgitates or vomits milk or fluid, these substances will pool at the airway’s opening and are more likely to be inhaled into the baby’s airway and lungs. However, if they are placed on their back to sleep that fluid will pool at the back of the throat and be more easily swallowed.


Dress your baby appropriately for sleep 

Dress your baby as you would dress yourself for the temperature of the room – comfortably warm, not too hot, not too cold.

Research shows a clear link between overheating and an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy which makes how you dress your baby for sleep extra important.

Always remember to remove head coverings such as beanies or bonnets for sleep as babies control their temperature predominantly through their head and face. If you choose to use a sleeping bag instead of a loose blanket, be sure to use the correct TOG (Thermall Overall Grade) to ensure your baby is comfortable. The sleeping bag should be fitted around the neck and your baby’s arms should be fully outside of the bag.

For younger babies being swaddled or wrapped, Red Nose recommends lightweight, breathable fabrics such as muslin and cotton.

Breastfeed your baby if possible 

The World Health Organisations recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, for the health benefits it provides, including the reduced chance of SUDI.

However, we also know that there are numerous and valid reasons why a person may not be able or choose not to breastfeed their child. If this is the case, you can still reduce the risk of SUDI by following the other Red Nose guidelines for safe sleep.

Purchase a cot or bassinet that is Red Nose Approved 

As the authority on safe sleeping and the prevention of SIDS in Australia, you can imagine that Red Nose does not give its approval easily. So, when you are preparing for your child’s arrival you can feel confident that if a cot or bassinet is Red Nose approved for Safer Sleep, it is safe for your baby.

Red Nose considers a cot safe if it meets the Australian Standard for cots. All new and second-hand cots sold in Australia must meet the current Australian and New Zealand Standard for Cots (AS/NZS 2172:2003) and will carry a label to say so.

Koala’s Joey Baby Mattress and Kookaburra Cot both meet the Red Nose Australia Safe Sleeping criteria. In fact, Joey by Koala is Australia’s most certified baby sleep range – so you can have peace of mind that, in conjunction with the advice listed above, your child is sleeping safely.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and Joey by Koala.

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