07 5539 6144

C.Samosa Milne

Dr. Bec Thornton from Red Nose offers valuable insights into this crucial subject, empowering you to make informed decisions for your little one’s safety.

In the sea of products targeting parents and caregivers, promising serene nights for both you and your baby, it’s understandable that families feel overwhelmed, unsure where to start and how to ensure safety.

Many parents believe that creating a soft, snug, nest-like environment is synonymous with comfort for their babies during sleep. However, this perception is flawed. In reality, such environments pose significant risks, with tragic consequences including loss of life.

Soft sleep surfaces pose a grave danger to babies, especially those under 12 months old, as their physiology differs significantly from older children and adults. Their relatively larger heads and less developed neck muscles mean they may inadvertently obstruct their airways when not placed on a firm, flat surface. To grasp the severity of this risk, try gently resting your chin on your chest to experience the restricted breathing.

Moreover, soft surfaces heighten the risk of suffocation. For instance, padded bumpers or nest walls can block a baby’s airway if they turn their face toward the padding. Similarly, rolling over on a soft surface can lead to suffocation if the mouth and nose become pressed into it, potentially causing rebreathing of carbon dioxide, which can be fatal.

It’s crucial to avoid introducing further hazards into your baby’s sleep space, such as excessively soft items or inclined sleep surfaces, as these increase the likelihood of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) or sleep accidents.

Creating a safe sleep environment involves careful consideration of the following:

  1. Cots or Travel Cots: Dr. Bec Thornton advises placing your baby in a cot or travel cot, as these must adhere to strict Australian and New Zealand safety standards (AS/NZS 2172 and AS/NZS 2195). Always look for compliance labels or stickers, and when in doubt, seek clarification.
  2. Bassinets: While bassinets can be used in the parents’ or caregivers’ bedroom during the early months, it’s essential to exercise caution. Currently, there are no mandatory safety standards for bassinets in Australia. Refer to guidelines from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to select a safer option.

Selecting a mattress that ensures safety for your cot or portable cot

A secure mattress is one that fits snugly within the dimensions of the cot, portable cot, or bassinet.

It should be:

  • Firm,
  • Clean,
  • In optimal condition,
  • Positioned flat, without any tilt or elevation.

DO: Opt for a cot mattress that adheres to the size and depth specifications recommended by the cot manufacturer. A poorly fitting mattress can create gaps where a baby might become trapped, particularly hazardous if their face becomes covered or their neck is restricted. Ensure there’s no more than a 20mm gap between the mattress and the cot sides and ends.

DO: Choose a cot mattress compliant with the AS/NZS Voluntary Standard (AS/NZS 8811.1:2013 Methods of testing infant products – Sleep Surfaces – Test for firmness).

DO: Remove plastic packaging from the mattress and verify that the waterproof mattress protector is sturdy and snugly fitted.

DO: Utilize the firm, clean, and appropriately sized mattress provided with the portable cot.

DON’T: Introduce soft bedding like nests, bumpers, sheepskins, extra padding, additional mattresses, or pillows into the cot or portable cot.

Remember: Always lay your baby on their back on a firm, flat surface, and avoid incorporating soft bedding into their sleep environment.

For more information on Safe Sleep Practices, visit: https://rednose.org.au/section/safe-sleeping