Consumer Watch with Candice Evans: Safe sleeping methods for the baby at home

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
A guide has been released to help infants sleep safely.
Camera IconA guide has been released to help infants sleep safely. Credit: Sarah Nickerson/Getty Images/Cultura RF

Babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so it’s vital to ensure the place where they spend all this time resting is as safe as possible.

As the range of infant sleeping products available in the Australian market continues to grow, leading medical and injury prevention experts, industry and regulators have developed a new best practice guide for the design of safe infant sleeping environments.

Developed to help industry, the guide highlights essential considerations for designing, marketing and supplying safe infant sleep products. It includes a checklist that can be used to identify product use and hazards.

As we help share the messaging from this important guide with industry, it’s timely to remind parents and carers of infants to ensure their own practices at home are safe.

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Red Nose, the charity organisation that aims to eradicate sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), recommends babies sleep on their back on a firm and flat surface in a safety-compliant cot that doesn’t contain blankets, toys, pillows or bumpers.

It is important to keep cots away from hanging cords, such as those on blinds, curtains or electrical appliances, as they could get caught around a baby’s neck.

Although infants may fall asleep for long periods in car seats, swings or bouncers, they should always be monitored to ensure their heads haven’t fallen forwards, as this may push the chin down towards the chest, leading to the airway becoming blocked.

If using a baby sling, it’s important to learn how to use it safely to prevent suffocation — the baby’s face should be visible at all times, not snuggled against fabric or the wearer’s body.

Other sleep hazards for infants can include being left unattended on an adult bed or bunk bed; being placed on a beanbag, couch, pillow or cushion; being left with a sleeping adult or child on a bed, couch or chair; and second-hand smoke.

More cot safety tips are available on our website at consumerprotection.wa.gov.au or to view the new industry guide, visit productsafety.gov.au.

Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison.

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