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Safe Baby Sleep: What You Need To Know

June 30, 2016
Safe Baby Sleep: What You Need To Know

Make sure baby sleeps safely with these essential tips from expert Dr Kate Johnson...

Good sleep is important not only for your baby but also for you. So while being tired comes with the territory of being a new parent, checking that she’s still breathing every two minutes – won’t really help you get to sleep when you can! There are a number of ways you can make sure your baby sleeps safely and help put your mind at ease.

Sleep safe position

The number one rule is to always place your baby on her back to sleep, not on the tummy or side.

Place your baby’s feet at the very end of the cot with the blankets tucked in tightly. This stops him from wriggling down under the blankets.

Once your bay has learned to roll from her front to her back on her own, you should still put them on their back in the cot to go to sleep but let them find their own comfortable sleeping position.

The right temperature

During winter when the heating is turned up, take care that your baby doesn’t get too hot.

Young babies cannot regulate their own temperatures, so you need to do it for him.

Switch the heaters off at night unless it is really artic. The ideal room temperature should be between 16-20°C.

Use a room thermometer in the room where your baby sleeps and plays and check it regularly.

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Wrapped up warm

Using blankets to keep your baby warm doesn’t have to pose a risk. Use a firm, flat and waterproof baby mattress covered with a single sheet and tuck her in securely with lightweight covers.

Sheets and blankets should be no higher than shoulder height, and firmly tucked in so that no bedding can cover your baby’s face or head.

Look for sweating or feel her tummy or the back of her neck – if they are clammy she is too hot.

Your baby’s hands and feet should be cool to the touch. Don’t worry this is normal and what you want. Don't wrap your baby in layer upon layer of clothing and check regularly that she isn't too hot.

Remember to take off layers when on transport, as well as indoors.

What to avoid

You need to keep your baby’s cot as simple as possible when she sleeps and not include things like pillows or bumpers.

Don't let her sleep:

  • with a hot water bottle
  • with an electric blanket
  • next to a radiator, heater or fire
  • in direct sunshine.

Not on the sofa or couch

It's dangerous to sleep together on a sofa or armchair. Babies can slip into the crack between the cushions or between the cushions and the sofa back and you may roll on top of your baby. If you're sitting on the sofa and feel tired, put your baby in his cot.

Ban doonas

Even in winter, your baby doesn't need extra bedding. Just use a couple of light blankets. If he feels warm, remove a layer or two.

If you use a sheepskin, take it away as soon as your baby starts trying to roll on to his tummy. If you use a baby sleeping bag, it needs to be without a hood, lightweight and the right size around the neck so your baby won't slip down inside the bag.

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Kate has worked in the field of Sleep Medicine for over 15 years. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne and has since worked extensively both here in Australia as well as most recently in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is passionate about working with families to help children sleep better and is the founder of Babysomnia. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and four young children. If you have a question for Kate you can ask it on the Facebook page or for more information check out the website at

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