What is a safe sleeping space for my newborn baby?

by | Aug 5, 2020 | Home Safety

Research shows that where your baby sleeps, particularly in the first 12 months, is extremely important in reducing the risk of fatal sleep accidents. We have put together some simple guidelines so you can establish a safe sleeping space from the get-go. 

The safest place for baby to sleep is on their back, in a cot

Even if your baby has fallen asleep elsewhere, the best place for them to sleep and to transfer them to is a cot because they can sleep flat on their back. 
The great thing about a cot is that it is suitable for newborns through to toddlers and they are regulated by strict Australian Standards to ensure they provide a safe sleeping environment.

Remember to: 

  • Only buy a household cot that meets the Australian Standards for Household Cots (AS/NZS 2172) 
  • Portable cots must also meet Australian Standard (AS/NZS 2195–1999) but are not suitable for permanent use in place of a cot 
  • Use a firm, clean, flat mattress that fits snugly inside the cot and doesn’t leave more than 20mm gap either end or on the sides. 
  • Keep the cot clear of toys, pillows or cot bumpers that could cause suffocation 
  • Don’t place the cot under a window or close to a blind or power cord
  • Keep heaters or any electrical appliances well away from the cot in case of burns and electrocution 

WARNING: Bouncinettes, prams, strollers, hammocks, baby swings, and car seats have NOT been designed for safe sleeping and can increase the risk of fatal sleep incidents. 

Can I use sheets or blankets in a baby’s cot?

It is most important to keep baby’s face or head uncovered. To keep baby comfortable in the cot we recommend: 

  • Use a firmly fitted bottom sheet. 
  • If using a lightweight blanket, sleep newborns with their feet close to the end of the cot and tuck the blanket securely under the mattress so your baby’s face doesn’t get covered or they become entangled 
  • In the cooler months consider using an infant sleeping bag that is the correct size and weight for the season, with a fitted neck, arm holes and no hood
  • Never use electric blankets, hot water bottles or wheat bags for babies.. 

Can my baby just sleep in our bed after the 3am feed?

Co-sleeping in a parent’s bed or on a couch carries a very high risk of a fatal sleeping accident. Sharing a bed with a baby can result in suffocation – either from a parent rolling onto the baby or the baby’s face becoming covered by a cushion, pillow, doona or from a soft sleeping surface. 
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot. Consider placing the cot beside your bed for easy access during the night.

When do I drop the base of my baby’s cot to the lowest position?

When it comes to babies – always stay one step ahead! There is one thing for certain and that is they will take you by surprise. Remember: 

  • As soon as your baby can roll over by themselves it’s time to adjust the base of the cot to its lowest position
  • No soft toys or pillows in the cot. Once babies can pull up to stand, Teddy’s head can be used to get higher. Once your baby’s arms and head are leaning over the side of the cot the body quickly follows and they tip out of the cot. 

What are the guidelines for safe sleeping?

There are 6 key recommendations for safe sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS and fatal sleep accidents 

  • Always sleep baby flat on their back, not on their side or tummy 
  • Sleep baby with face and head uncovered 
  • Keep baby smoke free before and after birth 
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment day and night 
  • Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first 6-12 months 
  • Breastfeed 

Need some advice? 

Kidsafe Qld’s mission is to provide evidence-based practical advice to empower parents and caregivers to make informed choices to prevent childhood injuries. We are at your service and welcome any questions you might have around injury prevention and keeping kids safe at home, on the road and at play. 
Call Kidsafe Qld: 3854 1829 

ACNC Registered Charity logo

Support Kidsafe Qld – Donate Today

We need your help to continue our important work in reducing the number of accidents and unintentional injuries that put children in QLD hospitals.

With your help, Kidsafe Qld can save children’s lives and reduce the pain and suffering from preventable injuries.