Safe Sleeping Guidelines

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In Australia the latest evidence-based advice on how to sleep your baby or toddler safely is provided by Red Nose a charity organisation founded by Kaarene Noelle Fitzgerald AC in 1977 following the death of her son Glenn to SIDS.

I highly recommend that you visit the Red Nose website and read through the education articles provided beginning with their guidelines for safe sleeping. They also have a feature on their website where you can ask a question and view answers to questions asked by other parents and caregivers.

What is SUDI?
Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) is a broad term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby for which the cause is not immediately obvious.

What is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an unexplained subset of SUDI. When no cause can be found for the death, it is called SIDS.

Reducing the risk
To reduce the risk of SIDS and fatal sleep accidents Red Nose recommends:

1. Sleep baby on their back from birth, not on the tummy or side; 
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered; 
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after; 
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day; 
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months; 
6. Breastfeed baby.

Are you familiar with The Triple Risk Model? If not, take a minute to read about it here. It will provide additional insight into why safe sleeping recommendations and allied health professionals working with parents of infants view every baby as vulnerable and focus on removing as many obstacles as possible from a baby's environment during that critical first year of life.

What about co-sleeping?
Bed-sharing or co-sleeping is a common practice amongst various cultures and a choice many parents make to best suit the needs of their family. It was something that worked beautifully for our family but it's not for every family either due to personal values or identifiable risk factors. Red Nose supports a risk minimisation approach to sharing a sleep surface with your baby and have put together a fantastic article detailing the risks, benefits and steps you can take do so safely. You can read it here.

Mobile Apps
The Safe Sleeping mobile app from Red Nose provides new and expectant mothers, carers and health care professionals with vital education-based information on the topics of:

  • Safe Sleeping

  • Tummy Time

  • Safe Wrapping

And, the Cot to Bed Safety mobile app from Red Nose provides vital information to mothers, carers and health care professionals on when to move a child out of a cot and into a bed, what type of bed to use, and how to provide a safe environment for a child.

You can find them on the iTunes app store:

Red Nose Safe Sleeping
Red Nose Cot to Bed Safety

Further reading
Below I've included links to some articles that might be of interest to you should you wish to read further about safe sleeping:

The safety of soft toys and transitional objects in the cot
Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing an in depth article by KellyMom
Safe Bed-Sharing Gives Breastfeeding Mothers More Sleep 
The Safe Sleep Seven by La Leche League
Safe Sleep for Breastfeeding Babies
Bedsharing and Formula Feeding

Professor James J. McKenna’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory studies how sleeping environments reflect and respond to family needs - in particular how they affect mothers, breastfeeding, and infants’ physiological and psychological well-being and development. On the website you'll find articles, answers to frequently asked questions and safe cosleeping guidelines.

I also write about sleep on Instagram at @mummamaze and would love for you to join me there.