There is a wealth of information available from health professionals, on the internet and elsewhere, about keeping your baby safe when they are sleeping. We are not health experts and do not profess to be, however we do think it is right to draw your attention to generally accepted safety advice when it comes to choosing and buying products of the type we sell. Please be advised that this is a brief summary only and we recommend that you read further on these topics to ensure that you are happy with the choices you make.
For babies, health experts generally advise you to:
- place your baby to sleep on their back, in the 'feet to foot' position, which means with their feet at the end of the cot, and tuck them in securely with the sheets/blankets no higher than their shoulders;
- avoid your baby overheating by keeping their head bare and by using a sheet and one or more layers of lightweight blankets, so that a layer can easily be removed if baby becomes too hot;
- buy the correct size sheets and suitable size blankets for your cot, remembering that if you fold a blanket this will count as two layers of bedding;
- keep the room at a comfortable temperature (between 16 and 20 degrees c is generally recommended), avoid the temptation to keep the heating on all night and avoid your baby sleeping next to a heater or radiator or napping in the line of direct sunshine;
- ensure the cot mattress is well-fitting, firm and clean, and avoid using second-hand mattresses.
Pillows, duvets and quilts
Most experts agree that pillows, duvets and quilts are not suitable until at least 12 months of age.
Advice from experts on the use of cot bumpers is variable and can be confusing. Some say they are not suitable for young babies due to the risk of suffocation or getting tangled in the ties, and others suggest removing them before your baby is able to sit and pull themselves up to prevent the bumper being used to assist in an escape out of the cot. On the positive side, they are used to prevent your baby bumping themselves on the bars of the cot and may help prevent an arm or leg getting stuck in the bars. If you do use a cot bumper, make sure it is securely tied.
Baby Sleeping Bags
Baby sleeping bags are very popular as an alternative to sheets and blankets and, according to the Gro Company website, over 95% of parents now use them. They are considered a particularly good option for babies who kick the covers off, as they replace the need for sheets and blankets and they help keep your baby a regular temperature all night.
The size of the bag should be a good fit for your baby and the tog rating appropriate for the season. The bag should fit well around baby's chest and not be so big that it could slip over their head if they were to wiggle down. Although they can be used from birth, we have read that many parents prefer to wait until a baby is at least a few weeks old before starting to use one. The Gro Company, who are one of the principal suppliers of sleeping bags, recommend that a baby must be full-term and a healthy weight of 4kg or more before a sleeping bag would be suitable. If, on putting your baby in a sleeping bag for the first time, you feel that they would be able to slip down inside the bag then wait until they are a little bigger.
On togs, for summer a 1 tog bag is generally recommended, although it is also possible to get 0.5 tog bags for the height of summer. For the colder nights of winter, a 2.5 tog bag is a good bet. Baby sleeping bags are designed without sleeves to aid heat loss and air circulation, to help prevent babies overheating.
Of course, the level of clothing you dress your baby in will also affect their comfort and temperature. Suggested clothing options are usually given as follows:
> simply a nappy or short-sleeve bodysuit under a 0.5 tog or 1.0 tog bag for very hot nights when the room is 24c or higher;
> a long-sleeve bodysuit under a 1.0 tog bag when the room is around 22c;
> a short-sleeve bodysuit and pyjama top under a 1.0 tog bag or one less layer with a warmer 2.5 tog bag at 20c;
> two layers of clothing such as a long-sleeved bodysuit and pyjama top/set with a 2.5 tog bag when the temperature is around 18c or lower.
However, all babies differ and you will get to know yours; if you think they are uncomfortably hot or cold you can easily adjust their clothing on subsequent nights. Experts advise checking their chest, rather than hands or feet, as an indicator of whether or not they are too hot, since hands and feet are very often cold anyway.
Never use quilts or duvets in addition to a sleeping bag as this will overheat your baby.
Cots should conform to British Standard BS 1753. They should be sturdy, have no gaps where fingers or clothing could get trapped and the bars should be securely fixed and smooth. The distance between each bar should be between 25mm (one inch) and 60mm (2.5 inches). Mattresses must be the right size and fit snugly so there is not a gap between the mattress and the edge of the cot where baby could get their head, arm or leg stuck.
You will find plenty more information on-line. The NHS website is a good starting point.