The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot or bassinet with a firm, flat mattress. For an optimal sleep environment, “same place every time” allows your baby to begin to make a connection about sleep though this really isn’t established until later. It is a great habit to form right from the start so keep this in mind.
Best Cribs and Bassinets to Use
It is your choice if you decide to use a bassinet within the first 12weeks or use a crib immediately. Newborn babies like the security of smaller surroundings plus bassinets take up a lot less room if you are room sharing. Many bassinets are on wheels so moving your baby to different rooms can be easier. Typically around 12 weeks, your baby will need more space so transitioning him to a cot is ideal.
There are many types of bassinets on the market that rock, swing and make noise. I recommend avoiding these types of beds because they can make the transition to a stable crib much more difficult. A simple, boring bed is best.
It is so important that your baby is not overdressed when sleeping. New babies have difficulty regulating their own body temperature. Trying to dress and layer your baby may be a bit of a guessing game initially. It is important to know that when your baby has cold hands and feet, it doesn’t mean he is cold, it means he is cooling down. If your baby is sweating, this is a sure sign he is too hot. Placing a hand under his clothes behind the nape of his neck will give you a better indication whether the layering is correct.
Always try to use bedding and clothes made of natural fibers like cotton, wool, and bamboo. These fabrics “breathe” allowing for the constant temperature changes during the day and night.
Loose blankets and sheets are not recommended due to the increased risk of SIDS.
Swaddles and Sleep Sacks
It is recommended for babies to be swaddled within the first 12 to 16 weeks of age. Your baby will have an active moro-reflex that can last up to 5 months of age. A moro-reflex is when your baby feels like he is falling. His arms may go out and in and there can be some crying. Your baby will also experience a startle reflex. This is an unconscious response to sudden noise or movement. Though you cannot prevent this from happening, using a swaddle can help restrict movement and reduce your baby’s chances of waking himself up. Also, your baby will be spending a lot of time in active sleep (70%) meaning he will be squirming and moving when sleeping. A swaddle can encourage a less disruptive sleep by reducing movement.
It is important to mention here that you need to practice safe swaddling because if your baby’s hips and legs are not allowed the necessary movement, this can lead to hip dysplasia. For specific information about correct swaddling visit www.healthyhipsaustralia.org.au.
From about 12 to 16 weeks of age, your baby will be getting ready to transition from a swaddle to a sleep sack. Using a sleep sack allows your baby’s arms to be free. Having access to his arms is important when he learns to roll. Your baby may like to suck on his hands or thumb which are great self-settling tools you really want to encourage. You can use a sleeping bag right up until your baby is ready to transition into a bed at around three years of age.