Rockabye Baby

Here are some ABCs to help your baby catch some Z’s.

You’ve got the crib, the mattress and a blanket, but you’re still not sure your little one is fully rested. Like you, your baby needs the right conditions to get the best sleep she can.

Appropriate ambience

Singapore is hot and humid, so keeping your infant cool is of utmost importance.

Is a fan better than an air-conditioner? The answer is it doesn’t matter which you use. The key is in keeping the room at a temperature that is comfortable for your baby. Like Goldilocks said, it won’t do if it is too hot or too cold.

Dress your baby in light comfortable sleep clothes that cover her arms and legs to prevent loss of hydration. Keep the crib away from direct air flow from the air-con unit or fan, as this can dehydrate your baby.

Befitting bedding

A soft mattress may feel more comfortable, but a firm mattress is safer. Fluffy padding or a thick quilt can interfere with breathing should your baby roll over and press his face against it. Purchase a mattress that fits your crib exactly; gaps can trap fingers, hands, feet and toes.

If you have the budget, you may consider a mattress cover that is made of an hypoallergenic material that can reduce the risk of irritation. Whether you choose a plain cotton mattress cover or a fancy one, make sure it is a fitted sheet that covers the mattress snugly.

Resist the temptation to fill the crib with pillows, stuffed animals and toys, or bumper pads. They pose a risk of suffocation should your baby turn over against them.

Ideally, your infant should not need a blanket. If you do use one, make sure it is lightweight and large enough that the ends can be tucked underneath the mattress. Let the blanket cover her chest and no higher. You can purchase specially-made crib blankets for this purpose.

Crib characteristics

While it’s tempting to snuggle with your baby, adult beds aren’t safe for infants. She can become stuck in the space between the mattress and the bed frame or between the mattress and the wall. She may accidentally be squeezed between you and your spouse. If either of you accidentally roll over the baby or push a pillow over her nose and mouth, she will suffocate.

So what should you look for in a baby crib? The options are many, but here are some essentials:

  • Choose stable metal or wooden bars over vinyl straps, which can wear out over time.
  • The slats should be no more than 6cm apart to prevent your baby’s head from getting stuck inside. Decorative cut-outs can also pose this risk.
  • Wheels are a great feature, especially when you’re vacuuming the baby room, but make sure they are lockable to prevent the crib from rolling unexpectedly.
  • Cribs with fixed sides are the safest option, but those with sides that fold down are convenient. Make sure the gate locks from the outside and that it is high enough to prevent your tot from climbing out.
  • The corner posts should be high enough that your tot can’t get his clothes caught on them.

You can save money by reusing an old crib. However, there can be many disadvantages of doing so. Check the crib for splinters, cracks, sharp edges and rough surfaces, peeling paint, loose or missing screws and bolts, and decorations that dangle, like cords and ribbons. You may be better off buying a brand-new crib.

Dozing dispositions

Opinions differ from parent to parent, but the experts say that sleeping on the back (“non-prone”) is the safest position. No need to be paranoid though - if your little one rolls over on her own in her sleep, leave her be. The risk to your baby if she sleeps “prone” is not great enough to justify waking her or yourself.

Does that mean that she cannot lie on her tummy? Well, as long as your tot is awake and supervised, she can do so. And she should - in addition to helping to build strong arms and shoulders, alternating positions will prevent flattening of the back of her head.

Seek your paediatrician’s advice if your baby has any health issues or special needs. In certain cases, your baby may need to sleep in a particular position.

Establish a pattern

Just like you, your tot will be happy and healthy when she sleeps sufficiently and on a regular schedule. Lay him down in his crib at the same time every night. Wake him up at regular intervals for feeding. Keeping his crib close will not only make this easy, it will also improve your bond.

Your munchkin’s body does not differ too greatly from yours. Hence, take your own preferences into consideration as well, when you are making decisions for him.