The sleeping environment is important to the baby’s good sleep and is an essential factor in preventing sudden infant death syndrome.
Sleep Safely – Always Lying on Your Back
Always lay your baby on its back to sleep in the first year of life! It can breathe best in this sleeping position. And since parents were advised not to let their babies sleep in the prone position, the number of sudden infant deaths has decreased significantly.
Lying on your side as a sleeping position is also not recommended. It is also at a higher risk, and there is also a risk of the baby rolling onto its stomach. And don’t worry: studies have shown that the risk of choking on vomit is no higher in the supine position than in the prone or side position. If your child would like to fall asleep on their stomach, turn them over on their back and gradually encourage them to fall asleep on their back.
Of course, you should always lay your child on their stomach during the day when they are awake – this strengthens the neck and back muscles and also gives your baby a little variety in their view of the world.
Bed, Bassinet or Cradle – Safe and Secure
In the first weeks and months of life, a newborn is in good hands in a cradle or bassinet. Because the sleeping area is not too big, it feels enveloped and secure. If you want to use a cot right from the start, you can optically limit the cot so that the baby does not feel lost. For example, there is a short canopy for this purpose in specialist shops that only extends as far as the bars. Under no circumstances should the cot be made smaller with soft or fluffy materials that the baby can sink into or that could cause heat to build up.
Our ancestors already knew that weighing has a calming effect and has a positive effect on children’s sleep. It is now known that gentle rhythmic movement is good for the overall development of children – an argument in favor of the good old baby cradle. Another way to gently rock your child to sleep is with a baby hammock. If you choose this option, please find out exactly which type of hammock is suitable for this purpose.
No matter what you choose – it is important that the sleeping place is safe and that there is enough space for adequate air circulation. That is why it is generally not recommended to let infants sleep permanently in a stroller or in a carrier bag.
Well Bedded – In A Sleeping Bag, Without Pillows, Nests and Furs
As far as the equipment of the sleeping area is concerned, the less the better. Therefore, please note the following points:
- In the first twelve months of life, your baby does not need a pillow at all, and for safety reasons it should not be used; later you can put a very flat pillow in his bed that his head cannot sink into. This will prevent overheating or dangerous backlogging of breath (the baby breathes in its own breath again).
- Instead of a blanket, we recommend a sleeping bag. This way, there is no risk of the baby slipping under the covers. In addition, the child cannot kick himself free at night. With the sleeping bag, you should make sure that the neckline is not larger than the child’s head so that they cannot slip into it. The correct length of the sleeping bag is calculated from the body size minus the head length of the child plus ten to 15 cm for growing and kicking. Above all, the sleeping bag should not be too wide so that the child does not get entangled in it.
- If you use a blanket, it should also be as flat as possible. Fold the blanket under the mattress at the foot end and cover the child only up to the chest. Make sure that you place the child in their cot so that their feet bump against the lower edge of the bed. This reduces the risk of their head getting under the covers.
- Even if you want to make your baby as cuddly as possible: nests and sheepskins have no place in the cot. They can lead to overheating or dangerous back pressure of breath. Heating pads and hot water bottles do not belong in the cot either. In addition to the risk of overheating, they can also cause life-threatening scalds.
- Make sure that you sleep in an overall low-allergen environment and that you have easily washable and lint-free textiles.
Not Overly Dressed – This is The Best Way To Sleep
Infants prefer things a little cooler and run the risk of overheating. The optimal room temperature for sleeping is around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. Therefore, as a matter of principle, do not put on your child too much or too thick clothes! When sleeping, a diaper, underwear and pajamas are sufficient; even less in summer. Even if the child is sick and has a fever, fewer clothes are usually sufficient in bed – never more.
Never put a hat on your child at home and especially in bed. Because if it is too warm, it gives off the excess heat through the head.
It is best to check whether your child is too warm or too cold in the neck of the child. If you find that your baby is too warm, do not hesitate to move the sleeping child as well. Incidentally, babies’ hands and feet are often cool without them being too cold overall. It is completely normal. You can also be sure that your child will complain loudly if they are too cold. If, on the other hand, it is too warm, it usually just continues to sleep.
The Baby Bed – Quality and Safety Have Priority
Depending on how big the child is and how quickly it grows, the bassinet and cradle become too small after six months at the latest. Then it’s time to switch to a crib.
A good cot does not have to be expensive and can also be purchased cheaply second-hand. In any case, however, it should meet all safety requirements and, for example, have no protruding parts, sharp or pointed edges and corners that could injure the baby.
It is best if you buy the mattress together with the bed – then you can see for yourself that it fits perfectly into the bed and cannot slide back and forth. When buying a used bed, it is advisable to buy the mattress new. The mattress should not be thicker than ten centimeters and rather firm: When lying down, the child should not sink in more than two centimeters.
When buying a mattress, inquire about residues of flame retardants, softeners, solvents, etc. Mattresses are also repeatedly checked for pollution by consumer magazines and consumer protection organizations. Inform yourself.
There are now also mattresses specially designed for children at risk of allergies.
In Good Hands in the Parents’ Bedroom – Of Course, Non-Smoking!
In the first year of life, the cot should be placed in the parents’ bedroom. So the child is very close to you at night. The even breathing sounds of the parents have a positive influence on the breathing regulation of the baby and for breastfeeding mothers, it is also very practical if the baby bed is within easy reach. In the meantime, there are also small baby beds that you can literally “dock” to the parents’ bed – so the baby has its own sleeping place and is still very close to you.
In any case, set up the cot so that the child cannot reach lamps, sockets, power cables, or picture frames. Make sure that it is not on the radiator or in direct sunlight. Your child should also not be exposed to drafts – especially not on their head.
It cannot be emphasized enough: make sure that the environment is smoke-free – at night as well as during the day! Under no circumstances should your child sleep in a room that is also used for smoking.
The correct room temperature for sleeping is between 16 ° and 18 ° Celsius. It is also important to ventilate the room in which your child sleeps regularly for a few minutes with the window open (continuous ventilation with the window tilted can encourage mold growth).
Sleep in a Family Bed – Only With Safe Rules
Some parents would like to have their baby very close to them at night and share the family bed with them. On the one hand, sharing a bed can make breastfeeding easier, which is important for child wellbeing. On the other hand, various studies suggest that sleeping in a family bed is associated with an increased risk of sudden infant death. This has been proven to apply if one or both parents are smokers.
If you want to take your baby to bed with you to sleep, some “safety rules” should be followed:
- The common family bed is ideal for breastfeeding mothers, as it makes breastfeeding easier. If the baby is given bottle feeding, it should be better to sleep in their own crib next to the parent’s bed.
- No adult sleeping with you should be a smoker.
- The shared bed must not be too narrow. Water beds and sofas are also not suitable for sleeping together.
- Don’t let your baby sleep alone in an adult bed.
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed or get trapped between the bed and the wall. Make sure that it cannot slip under blankets or pillows.
- Don’t let your baby sleep next to a stranger or an older child.
- Under no circumstances let pets sleep in bed with you.
In addition, the same safety precautions apply when sleeping in a cot: always lying on your back; best in a sleeping bag, no pillow; firm, clean mattress; Avoid warm clothes, no hat in bed. If you have decided on a common family bed, in certain situations you should under no circumstances take your child to bed with you in order not to endanger his or her safety:
- If you or another adult who sleeps with you has drunk alcohol, taken drugs or taken medication that could make you particularly tired.
- When you are particularly tired for other reasons, which could limit your ability to react.