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Environment for a baby's healthy sleep

Before the birth, your baby had the ideal environment: floating weightlessly in the warm amniotic fluid, in the twilight and with muffled background noise, it was comfortably secure in mom's tummy. Most parents would like to design the environment for their child after the birth according to this model. But what is the optimal sleeping environment for your little one?

The baby bed


Safety is particularly important here. So pay attention to quality and workmanship: you shouldn't have any sharp edges or protruding, pointy parts on it. The bars should have a maximum gap distance of 6 cm so that your little one can neither get stuck nor slip through. The paint or glaze must not be toxic incase the baby licks it.

A good, stable frame forms the basis for a healthy child's sleep. In the case of a height-adjustable bed, there should be at least 30 cm clearance between the mattress and the top edge of the cot grille at the highest level. It is ideal if it is at least 60 cm in the lowest position, then the bed can still be used if your child wants to overcome all limits with the joy of discovery.

The mattress should allow optimal air circulation and be absolutely free of harmful substances. A firm edge is ideal so that your baby's feet cannot get caught between the bars and the mattress when jumping around on the bed. In addition, it should be immovable in the frame and be relatively firm so that the child cannot sink deeper than about two centimeters. Then the pad adapts perfectly to the baby's spine.

Do not use an air-impermeable moisture protection cover, because then even the best mattress cannot prevent heat build-up!

You can avoid accidents by not stretching rubber bands or cords with toys over the cot or attaching them to the bars.

The optimal sleeping temperature


During the day babies should sleep at a temperature of 18 to 20 degrees, at night it can be a little cooler: 16 to 18 degrees is optimal. Make sure that there is no draft near the cot and ventilate regularly (push ventilation). Dry heating air is not good for your baby because it dries out the mucous membranes. If you still want or have to heat the bedroom at night, it is better to do this in the afternoon after airing it out and turn the heating down before bedtime.

Sleepwear


A diaper, body and pajamas are sufficient as sleeping clothes - less in summer when the room temperature is higher. In cool temperatures, hot water bottles, spelled fur or heating pads are great for preheating the bed, but they are unnecessary and dangerous while sleeping. Also make sure that your child does not have a pillow, nest, blanket or cuddly toy in bed due to risk of suffocation.

 


 

The sleeping bag


To prevent your baby from sweating while sleeping, it is best to use a sleeping bag. Baby sleeping bags are safer than blankets because they cannot be kicked away or pulled over the head. Make sure that the bag is not too big and that the neck opening is not larger than the circumference of the head.

You can determine the right size of a sleeping bag with the rule of thumb “body size minus head length of the baby plus 10 cm to grow”. We recommend baby sleeping bags that are closed with a chest section and two small openings for the arms so that the child cannot slip into or out of the sleeping bag.

The standard sizes of 70, 90 or 120 cm are usually still too big for newborns. In specialist shops there are premature and newborn sleeping bags in lengths of 44, 50 and 60 cm. If a sleeping bag is too long, it is often too wide, so there is a risk of the child becoming entangled in the sleeping bag. Too much empty foot space can also lead to heat loss. You should adjust the thickness of the sleeping bag and the clothing of your child to the room temperature and not to the season. Sleeping bags that have a zip that can be opened from below are practical. So you don't have to completely undress your baby to change diapers at night. Sleeping bags with sleeves are also available.

The sleeping position


According to experts, the most secure position for your baby's healthy sleep is the supine position - both at night and during the day. This position alone reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by more than half.

In the prone position, your baby's mouth and nose could more easily sink into the mattress while sleeping. The rebreathing of the exhaled air can lead to a lack of oxygen and respiratory arrest. Even lying on the side does not reliably protect the baby from this danger. 

Birgit, an experienced midwife says: 

"However, if your child can turn around later on, let them sleep as they please.

At this age, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome is low and the sleeping position no longer plays a major role. However, even then, a sleeping bag should definitely prevent your child from getting under the covers or burying their face in pillows or duvets."

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