As parents, it’s incredibly important to ensure safe sleep for babies. Because newborns spend 70% of their time asleep, the best precautions must be taken for your baby’s health and wellness.
Here at Sleep Science, we recommend the following safe sleep guidelines to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
How To Swaddle A Baby
Swaddling is the practice of wrapping a baby up in a blanket to help them feel calm and sleep better. Newborns generally respond well to being swaddled as it’s like they’re back in the womb.
The Benefits of Swaddling
Swaddling can help a baby settle more easily and sleep longer. This is because they are less likely to startle themselves and wake from environmental factors.
During the transition period between the security of the womb and entering the outside world, it is comforting for babies to be gently wrapped and cosy.
Is Swaddling my Baby Safe?
It is generally safe for newborns to be swaddled according to recommended guidelines. As long as your baby can’t roll over yet, they are perfectly safe sleeping swaddled on their back.
Risks of Swaddling
It is potentially unsafe if your baby is not swaddled properly, if they’re wrapped too tightly, or if they overheat from a warm blanket.
How to Swaddle Correctly
- To swaddle your baby, use thin, breathable material. We recommend choosing a cloth of cotton or muslin as these fabrics are lightweight and flexible.
- Spread the cloth out flat, with one corner folded down.
- Lay the baby facing up on the blanket, with their head above the folded corner. It is important that only their body is wrapped and not their neck or head.
- Straighten their left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over their body. Tuck it between their right arm and the right side of their body.
- Tuck their right arm down and fold the right corner of the blanket over their body and under their left side.
- Fold the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby. The swaddle must be gently wrapped but still secure.
- Ensure that the baby’s hips are loose and their knees can freely kick. Your baby’s legs should be able to fall into a natural position like frog legs. Wrapping a baby’s legs too tightly can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia.
A Word of Caution
Swaddling should only be introduced once your baby is a newborn.
By two to four months old, your baby could start learning to roll over. Once they show signs of active movement and rolling over, they need to be transitioned away from swaddling.
When older babies are restrained, they may not be able to lift their head or turn, increasing the likelihood of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
How To Dress Baby For Sleep
As the baby gets older, it is important to choose the appropriate sleepwear.
Find Breathable Materials
Just like their swaddle, baby’s sleepwear is best when light and breathable. Choosing cotton or natural-fibre materials can prevent babies from overheating. On colder nights, snuggly fleece jammies should do the trick.
Choose Snug Fit Clothing
Snug pyjamas are preferred for babies as loose materials may ride up and cover a baby’s face during sleep, inhibiting their breathing.
With frequent nappy changes, onesies with snaps and zippers are ideal for greater efficiency and convenience. Elaborate ensembles are more appropriate for daytime hours.
Safest Baby Sleeping Position to Reduce SIDS
We recommend parents always place their babies in the supine position. In other words, babies must lay facing upwards, rather than on their side, for every sleep period.
Research has shown that this has reduced the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by 53% over the last 10 years. When infants are swaddled and placed on their stomachs, or if they roll onto their stomachs, they may accidentally suffocate.
Safe Sleep for Babies: More Tips
- Ensure that the baby sleeps in a clean environment. Babies are extremely susceptible to illnesses and their immune systems may not handle frequent exposure to the elements.
- Remember to remove any objects, toys, or loose blankets in your baby’s sleeping area. These could potentially suffocate the child, cause overheating or impair their breathing.
- Place a fan to keep your baby cool and to circulate the air in the room. While babies can regulate their temperature, a warm swaddle could cause the baby to overheat. Some signs of overheating include sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, or rapid breathing.
- Lay the baby to sleep in their own crib, rather than co-sleeping on your bed. However, studies have shown that sharing a room to monitor your baby can reduce the likelihood of SIDS.
With nappy changes and occasional tantrums, babies need love, care, and attention. During the first few months as a new parent, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep your baby happy and safe.
However, we hope that these quick tips and safety recommendations can help ease your worries and ensure the best night’s sleep for your little one.
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