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Understanding safe sleep for babies

Sarah Hunstead

Sarah Hunstead

Sarah Hunstead started CPR Kids because as a paediatric nurse knows that what a parent or carer does to help their sick or injured child in the minutes before an ambulance arrives, can directly impact the health outcome of their child. Sarah realised that a little knowledge, and confidence to act, could make all the difference. So Sarah set out to empower every adult to be...
Created on Oct 15, 2023 · 2 mins read
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Recently, a CPR Kids follower contacted us with concerns about certain sleep-aiding products available on the market. These products come with promises such as “long sleep” or “safe sleep” for babies, when in actual fact, there is no evidence that they adhere to the Australian Safety Standards (a great summary of the standards in place can be found on the ACCC Product Safety site).

As we know, sleep deprivation is tough, and it makes products like this all the more alluring – but practising safe sleep standards is vital.

So what is safe sleep? Why is it important? 

A safe sleeping environment, according to Red Nose Australia, “means that all potential dangers have been removed and the baby is sleeping in a safe place. The ideal place for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot, on a safe mattress, with safe bedding, in a safe sleeping place, both night and day.”

An unsafe sleeping arrangement can increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. SIDS remains the most common category of death between 1 month and 1 year of age.

There are some important things to practice to ensure a safe sleep environment:

  • Baby should be put down to sleep on their back, with feet close to the bottom end of the cot or bassinet
  • Head and face should remain uncovered
  • The baby should be in a smoke-free environment before and after birth
  • A safe bassinet and cot are vital (they must meet Australian Standard AS2172 which will be present on labelling)
  • No soft or bulky bedding, such as pillows, bumpers, blankets and toys
  • If you are wrapping baby, ensure that you are always doing so safely
  • Breastfeed baby
  • A safe bassinet in the parent’s room is recommended for the first 6-12 months
  • Never leave your baby sleeping unsupervised in a pram, stroller or bouncinette
  • It is also recommended that cots and bassinets are purchased as new for use, and not second hand

If you choose to co-sleep, it is important to be aware of circumstances that can make this choice unsafe. This includes when you or your partner:

  • Are very tired or unwell
  • Have consumed alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Have taken any medication or drugs that may make you sleepy or less aware
  • Had a baby that was premature or small for their gestational age

Red Nose has put together a great guide with tips on how to co-sleep safely.

Always be wary of ads with baby sleep aid products and set-ups that make promises that sound too good to be true. When purchasing products and setting up your baby’s sleeping arrangement, always keep the above information in mind and ensure products comply with Australian Safety standards – look for the label that states that they do.

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