4 min.

27 April 2022

How to ensure your baby is safe as they sleep

By now you know that babies have a crazy tendency of sleeping in various bizarre positions. Some might even seem funny, but it’s always better to ensure they sleep in positions where they are not just comfortablr, but also safe.

Since babies spend 70% of their time asleep, let’s look at simple precautions one can take as a parent to ensure safe sleep for your baby. Here at Sleep Science, we recommend the following safe sleep guidelines to reduce, for instance, the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Dr. Verena Senn

This is the practice of wrapping a baby up in a blanket to help them feel calm and sleep better. Newborns generally respond well to being swaddled as it’s like they’re back in the womb.

Swaddling can help a baby settle more easily and sleep longer. This is because they are less likely to startle themselves and wake from environmental factors.

During the transition period between the security of the womb and entering the outside world, it is comforting for babies to be gently wrapped and cosy.

How to Swaddle Correctly

• To swaddle your baby, use thin, breathable material. We recommend choosing a cloth of cotton or muslin as these fabrics are lightweight and flexible.

• Spread the cloth out flat, with one corner folded down.

• Lay the baby facing up on the blanket, with their head above the folded corner. It is important that only their body is wrapped and not their neck or head.

• Straighten their left arm and wrap the left corner of the blanket over their body. Tuck it between their right arm and the right side of their body.

• Tuck their right arm down and fold the right corner of the blanket over their body and under their left side.

• Fold the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby. The swaddle must be gently wrapped but still secure.

• Ensure that the baby’s hips are loose and their knees can freely kick. Your baby’s legs should be able to fall into a natural position like frog legs. Wrapping a baby’s legs too tightly can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia.

Note: once the baby starts showing signs of active movement discontinue the swaddling to allow them to move more freely and reduce the chances of them being stuck in a dangerous position.

2. Dressing them comfortably

Your baby’s sleepwear should be based on the following:

• Made of breathable material- this will reduce the chances of them overheating and becoming uncomfortable as they sleep.

• Snug-fitting clothing- loose materials may ride up and cover their face, inhibiting their breathing.

• Functional clothes- considering you will be changing their nappy often than not, onesies with snaps and zippers are ideal for greater efficiency and convenience.

3. Placing them in the best sleeping position.

We recommend parents always place their babies in the supine position. In other words, babies must lay facing upwards, rather than on their side, for every sleep period.

Research has shown that this has reduced the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by 53% over the last 10 years. When infants are swaddled and placed on their stomachs, or if they roll onto their stomachs, they may accidentally suffocate.

4. Other things to consider

• Cleanness- ensure that the baby sleeps in a clean environment as they are susceptible to illnesses and their immune systems may not handle frequent exposure to the elements.

• Declutter the crib- Remember to remove any objects, toys, or loose blankets in your baby’s sleeping area. These could potentially suffocate the child, cause overheating, or impair their breathing

• Regulate the temperature around their crib- place a fan to keep the area they sleep in cool and reduce the chances of them overheating.

How long do babies sleep?

Babies sleep an average of 14-17 hours each day. This depends on how old the child is. Below is a rough sleep guide on how time varies with age.

  • A newborn baby sleeps for over 16 hours per day, including 3 naps of 7 hours each.
  • A 3-month-old sleep schedule will typically include 15 hours of sleep per day, with 3 naps of 5 hours each.
  • A 9-month-old sleep schedule will include around 14 hours of sleep per day, with 2 naps of 3 hours in total.
  • A 1-year-old sleep schedule will include roughly 13 hours of sleep per day, with 2 naps in total.
  • Following this period, toddlers will typically sleep for 11-14 hours and preschoolers will sleep for 10-13 hours. After the first two years, the baby’s sleep pattern will become more stable and consistent. Large changes take place during this time and by two years old, the child will only wake up once during the night. At the same time, the total time spent sleeping reduces to 12 hours per day as daytime naps become shorter.

The first few months after getting a child might be hectic. You may have a hard time sleeping at night due to the constant attention babies demand but remember, it is only short-term. Their sleeping patterns become more organized as they get older so just bear with them. Try making your baby comfortable enough for them to sleep better, safer and longer without waking up. This you can do by swaddling them and dressing them appropriately in comfortable clothes. Check on them once in a while to ensure that they are comfortable and are asleep in the correct position to reduce the chances of succumbing to SIDS. All in all, ensure that they are safe as they sleep by following the simple tips above.

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