When you find out you are pregnant the excitement is overwhelming and it is hard to resist going out and buying all those cute baby items and set up a Pinterest worthy nursery. But is that really a safe sleep environment for your newborn baby?
The problem is, we generally don’t get educated on safe sleep practices early enough in our pregnancy and we, therefore, start to buy things that aren’t considered safe and never get used! I’m here to talk you through safe sleep recommendations so you can have the perfect sleep environment from the start.
Why focus on Safe Sleep?
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) is important to keep in mind when starting to prepare your newborn’s sleep environment. SUIDS is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under the age of 12 months old where the cause of death is unable to be determined upon investigation. Newborn babies are incredibly vulnerable when they are sleeping. If a newborn baby were to have trouble breathing they would be are unable to move to fix it. Scientists have identified common risk factors in relation to SUIDS. By following the safe sleep practices the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has outlined, risk factors can be reduced.
Nursery or parent’s room?
To begin with, when setting up your nursery, it is important to note that it is generally recommended that your baby shares your room (not your bed) for the first 6 months of their little life. This means that you may have a gorgeous nursery set up ready to go, but only use it for a play space, to begin with. And I do encourage you to use it as a play space prior to transitioning to the nursery as this gets your baby familiar with that environment early on.
The actual sleeping place.
Let’s talk about the exact place your baby will sleep – whether you use a bassinet, to begin with, or a crib from the start. The only thing that should be in your baby’s crib should be a firm, safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet. No loose bedsheets allowed. There should also be no blankets, crib bumpers (of any sort), mobiles or toys in the crib. Instead of blankets, you can use sleep sacks for your baby to wear to ensure they are comfortable and warm.
I don’t know about you, but I constantly see people recommend wedges, positioners, rockers, bouncers, Dock a Tots and other pieces of equipment to help your newborn sleep, especially when parents are dealing with sleep challenges. It is best not to use any of these despite people suggesting them as they pose a suffocation risk.
Products to reduce SUIDS.
There are also many products on the market that say they reduce the risk of SUIDS and other sleep-related issues. It can be tempting to buy them, as we all want nothing more than to ensure our babies are safe. I even bought a heart sensor pad but never actually used it in the end! I suggest being wary of these products that claim to keep babies safe, as they generally have not been safety approved. Heart rate and breathing monitors (which I fell for!), as an example, are popular but there has been no actually scientifically backed evidence that they will prevent an SUIDS occurrence. In actuality, I’ve found from talking to parents that they find them disruptive to sleep and increase their anxiety (think false alarms).
Now that you know what the safe sleep recommendations are, what will your nursery look like?
If you are pregnant and wish to learn about establishing safe sleep from the start, you can register for a Newborn Sleep Strategy Session. It is a wonderful way to learn about sleep in the 4th trimester!