The moment you see that positive pregnancy test, you begin preparing for the new little one.
It doesn’t take long for you to begin thinking about keeping them safe, all the new baby gear on the market, and how on earth you’ll get enough sleep while caring for a newborn.
If you explore the big box baby stores, fancy boutiques or online retailers, you’re likely to assume every item is safe.
While most areas have safety requirements, warnings and detailed instructions, it isn’t uncommon for parents to miss warnings such as:
Do not leave baby unattended
Only for use in a car or approved travel system
Warning: Do not use for sleep
Never place inside a crib
4 Unsafe Places For Your Baby To Sleep
You’re not incorrect in assuming baby gear products approved for sale are safe. However, they’re only safe when used as directed.
No matter how safe an item seems, always read the product’s manual and avoid these 4 unsafe places for baby to sleep:
#1: Bouncy Seats
A bouncy seat, when used properly, is a safe item for baby. However, when we read the warning labels or instruction manuals, we realise these seats aren’t for use when baby is unattended.
Allowing baby to nap for short periods of time during the day, to sit and play with toys, or to soothe a fussy baby while you catch your breath are all safe ways to use a bouncy seat, provided you’re nearby.
Leaving baby in another room for a long nap, allowing baby to sleep in a bouncy seat while you sleep (even if nearby) or placing baby in a bouncy seat overnight are not safe. The death of a 3 month old baby girl left to sleep for hours in her bouncy seat is a tragic reminder of this.
While bouncy seats are safe overall, especially when used as directed with all safety buckles, they’re not designed for safe long periods of sleep.
Young infants have limited movement and control of their necks. Due to this, the angle of bouncy seats can allow their head to fall forward and compromise their airway.
Older infants could be injured by attempting to climb or roll out of a seat. Be sure to follow your specific seat’s manual for age, weight and height restrictions.
#2: Car Seats Not In A Vehicle Or Approved Travel System
Baby falls asleep in the car, nothing is more frustrating than attempting to gently transfer them to their crib/cot only to fail and them wake up.
It can be very tempting to leave your sleeping baby in their seat, assuming it’s safe (after all, it’s designed for infant safety, right?).
However, infant car seats are designed for car safety, not sleep safety outside of a vehicle or travel system.
When an infant car seat isn’t properly installed in a vehicle or travel system, the angle of the seat changes and can compromise your baby’s airway, such as in the tragic death of an 11 week old baby in Oklahoma.
At one time, a car seat was considered a safe sleep option and many professionals even recommended it to parents when a crib/cot wasn’t available.
Car seat designs change frequently but we also learn more over time about the risks of products. What was once considered safe, we now know has risks.
In some situations, a car seat can be considered a safe sleep spot when a caregiver is nearby and attentive. It’s very important you not assume this, and that you follow all manufacturer instructions for use.
#3: Couch Or Other Furniture
Ah, a nice comfy couch can feel like a wonderful place to nap. Pregnancy fatigue could have easily turned your couch into a favorite nap spot for yourself.
While it’s a great spot for adults, it’s a very dangerous nap spot for babies. Babies are still learning how to move and control their bodies, and they’re still building up their strength. Sometimes babies can roll into a position and be unable to roll back.
Rolling into couch cushions can compromise baby’s breathing. We also know that firm surfaces are safest for protecting against SIDS.
#4: Swings And Other Baby Gear
Many babies nap wonderfully in a swing. Swings often provide soothing motion, and gentle music or white noise. When it’s 11pm, you need to get up for work the next morning and no matter what you try, baby just won’t sleep, a swing can be extremely tempting.
As tempting as it is, swings aren’t designed for long-term sleep. They’re only considered safe for use with a parent nearby, not for unattended all night sleep.
Just like the other items on this list, the angle of a swing can potentially compromise the airway. This isn’t typically a concern for a nap near a caregiver. The angle isn’t likely to fully compromise an airway, but it can make breathing more difficult during long-term use and therefore has the potential to increase the risk of SIDS.
There are other items, even ones with nap or sleeper in the name, but it’s important to remember that safe sleep guidelines include only firm mattresses free of plush/fluffy items or bedding, and entrapments hazards.
Where Can My Baby Sleep Safely?
Nothing like reading all the soothing go-to spots are unsafe, huh?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, my oldest slept in his car seat ALL the time and was fine. I’ve never heard of anyone having an issue. These aren’t really that risky.”
True, most babies who nap in riskier spots will end up fine, but these are real risks. But, when we know something carries risk, is it worth taking the unnecessary risk?
It’s possible for you and baby to get adequate sleep safely. Some safety guidelines and ways to get adequate sleep include:
- Cot/crib with only a fitted sheet – in the first few months, this is considered safest while rooming in with parents
- Co-sleeping while following all co-sleeping safety guidelines. You can read more about co-sleeping in BellyBelly’s articles Sleeping With Baby – Is Co-Sleeping Safe? and Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines for Health Professionals
- A co-sleeper bassinet/mini cot with no plush bedding and properly used/installed
- A bassinet or Moses Basket.
Be sure to read more about safe sleep options: 5 Sleep Options For Your Baby – Where Will Your Baby Sleep?