Creating A Safe Sleep Environment
What is a safe sleeping environment? According to the Red Nose organisation: a safe sleep environment is accomplished by removing all potential dangers so the baby is sleeping in a safe place.
A Safe Cot…
Cots are recommended after the newborn/infant grows out the bassinet.
Finding a good, safe cot is the first step – a safe cot should meet current Australian Standard AS/NZS 2172. Whether you are looking at a new, hand me down or second hand Cot, it is recommended to check that it’s not posing any hazard risks, such as: painted with lead paint, spacing between bars is not too wide or narrow, the corner posts are not higher than the sides and there’s no strangulation hazards anywhere (think cot bumpers, decorations or other bulky items etc), and it is sturdy.
A Safe Cot Mattress…
Next step is finding a good cot mattress. The mattress needs to be firm and supportive for the little bodies to grow correctly. Unlike adults, who are more focused on finding a comfortable mattress, a Cot mattress should focus on being safe for an infant/toddler. The cot mattress should also fit the cot without any large gaps in between the cot and the mattress – guidelines suggest the mattress should be no more than 4cm smaller than the internal cot measurements (in both length and width).
It should also be clean, in a good condition, flat and firm. We would also recommend a natural, toxic free product due to the delicate nature of infants and toddlers. But what does ‘firm’ actually mean?
How Firm Should A Cot Mattress Be?
A Firm cot mattress should be Firm, as per the AS/NZ 8811.1:2013 standard test. This should be firm enough so that an infant is not at risk of suffocating if he or she sinks into the mattress.
It is not actually mandatory for mattress manufacturers to meet this standard, but here at Quokka beds, we take safety extremely seriously and we are pleased to say that we have passed the firmness test.
But if I already have a cot mattress, how can I be sure it is firm enough? There is actually a fairly simple test that can be done at home.
Testing A Cot Mattress At Home
To test at home, follow these instructions to test that your cot mattress is up to standards.
- Gather your supplies. A few simple household supplies can be used to test the safety of an infant’s mattress. If you don’t have all the supplies, you can get most of them at a department store. You will need the following:
- A ruler
- A pen or marker
- Plastic cling wrap or a thin plastic bag
- Two full, 1 litre cartons of milk or juice, in square bottom cartons
- A stack of 12 CDs or DVDs
- Draw a ring 40mm from the bottom of one of the cartons. Take your pen or marker, and your ruler. Place your ruler at the bottom edge of the carton. Measure up 40mm and make a mark, and then draw a line running parallel to the bottom edge. Draw similar lines on the other three sides of the carton. You should now have one carton with a ring drawn all the way around it.
- Wrap the CDs in plastic and set them on the mattress. Wrapping will make sure the CDs stay in a pile. It will also prevent damage to the CDs. Stack all 12 CDs up in a neat pile. Wrap them securely. Make sure to take the CDs out of their cases.. When you are done, set the CDs on the mattress. Pick the softest part of the mattress. This is important. Your baby could roll anywhere on the mattress during the night, so it’s important to test the softest part and, especially, where the baby’s head will be placed.
- Lay the cartons on top of the CD stack. Start with the carton with the ring on it. Line up the edge of the CD stack with the ring you drew earlier. The cartons should be lying on their sides. Put the second carton on top of the first one, also on its side. Place it however you need to in order for the cartons and CDs to balance horizontally.
- Determine your mattress safety. Look at the overhanging portion of the lower carton. This is the portion below the ring you drew earlier. This should not be touching the mattress. If the overhanging portion of the carton does not touch the mattress, it is safe for use. If the overhanging portion is touching the mattress, the mattress is too soft. You should replace it. You want to make sure the mattress you use is safe for your baby.
Keeping Your Baby Healthy
At Quokka beds, we strive to provide as much organic materials as possible and low VOC. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are carbon-based chemicals that easily become vapours or gases. Why do we focus on this?
Due to nature of babies (infants and toddlers), they are precious little new humans. Any unnatural materials and chemical fumes will most likely irritate their skin and respiratory system and become dangerous for a baby. Our goal is to keep the baby safe and comfortable while reducing the impact on the planet. Using only natural materials are key for restful sleep and long-term health. At Quokka beds, our Cot mattresses are made with 100% natural, recyclable materials and are 100% organic. Made with organic latex and organic rubberised coir (coconut fibre), it’s naturally germ free, dust resistant, antibacterial, dust mite and bed bugs resistant. Plus, it is encased in organic wool and cotton, plus it comes with a free organic cotton waterproof mattress protector.
Safe Sleeping For Babies
To make sure the environment is perfect for a safe sleep, it is also recommended to:
- Choose a standards-compliant cot; see our cot reviews for recommendations.
- Never wrap your mattress in plastic or any other unbreathable material.
- Soft toys and bumpers could pose a suffocation risk and should never be placed in the cot.
- Always place baby to sleep on his or her back, with feet at the base of the cot.
- Do not use doonas/quilts, lambswool, thick blankets or pillows in the cot until they are older.
- Buy a firm, safe mattress.
- Keep baby’s head uncovered and away from blankets, which should be tucked in tightly. Alternatively, use a safe sleeping bag.