There is a lot of choice for newborn baby bedding – swaddling, blankets and sleeping bags. Each have pros and cons and each are personal preference.
The NHS recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents until they are six months old. The main reason for this is to offer reassurance to newborn babies that someone is nearby. It is also to reduce the risk of SIDS by ensuring baby is sleeping on their back and bedding is free of their airways.
Most parents choose to put their baby in a Moses basket or next to me crib when they are first born. There is also a Scandinavian trend of newborns sleeping in boxes – these are given out free to parents in Scotland.
The bedding basics
No matter what you choose for your baby to sleep in, you are going to need bedding. Starting from the bottom, you need a mattress. The Lullaby Trust recommends that every newborn baby has a new, firm mattress and no pillow. Make sure there are no lumps, bumps or rips in it. If you are using a second hand crib or basket, make sure you place a new mattress in it.
Next, you will need a mattress protector. Milk, urine, vomit and poo are all going to appear at some point. It’s important they are caught before they leak through and stain your baby’s mattress.
Selecting the right sheets for your newborn baby
Once the mattress and protector are sorted, you can start thinking about sheets. Personally, I find fitted sheets easier as they stay in place. Alternatively, you could opt for flat sheets that fold underneath the mattress. From a safety perspective, I would say fitted sheets are better as flat sheets have the potential to come loose and cover your baby’s airways.
If you decide to use blankets, make sure they are made of cotton or wool and have holes in them. Then, if your baby wriggles in the night and blankets end up covering their face, they will still be able to breathe.
When deciding how many blankets to place over your baby, it’s important to consider the time of year and temperature of the room. If it is summer, you will likely need just one blanket. If it is winter, you might need two or sometimes three blankets. To check your baby is warm enough and not too hot, place your finger on the back of their neck.
Once you have selected the number of blankets you need for your newborn, position him or her at the bottom of their basket/crib. Then, tuck the blankets underneath the mattress, ensuring your baby’s arms are out. This means they can’t wriggle down and risk bedding going over their faces and blocking airways.
There are loads of different sleeping bag brands and most of them come in the same/ similar sizes of 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months and 18-36 months. Because of these big age jumps, baby sleeping bags can be very big, especially for newborns. It’s important to make sure the excess material isn’t so long that it doubles back on itself and covers your baby’s face. For very small babies, it might be best to swaddle or use blankets for the first few months then move to sleeping bags when they are bigger.
There are generally two tog choices – 1.0 which would be suitable for warmer nights and 2.5 which would be better for winter. The tog you opt for will dictate what you need to put on your baby underneath i.e a sleep suit, vest or both.
Because babies are zipped into the bags with their arms and heads firmly out, you don’t need to put your baby right at the bottom of their cot as they can’t wiggle down into it.
Most newborn babies love to be swaddled. The feeling of being tightly wrapped up and warm is a familiar one to them as that’s how they have been for the past nine months so bedding that can replicate this, is a huge hit.
There are arguments for and against swaddling babies with their arms in and with their arms out. It is generally agreed that babies should stop being swaddled as soon as they can roll over as if they have their arms inside, they may not be able to stop their nose and mouths being face down and bedding restricting their breathing.
If you are going to swaddle your newborn baby, here is a handy how-to guide from Baby Centre.
The optimum room temperature for babies sleeping is between 16 and 20 degrees. It is handy to have a thermometer placed in the room to help you decide what bedding is best for your newborn baby.