A safe, warm and uncluttered sleep place for baby is important so that they can’t roll face-down and suffocate on soft surfaces, or get stuck against things such as couches, chairs, or adult beds. Use the checklists below to see if your baby’s bed and room are safe and warm.
Make sure that:
the room is well aired with the door open, especially if you use a heater
the temperature should feel comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult - the temperature around the cot will be more even if it’s away from windows
the room is not too hot - using an electric heater with a thermostat is best (fan heaters may overheat the room and gas heaters can give off dangerous fumes)
the cot is away from windows, curtains, blind cords, power points and heaters.
To keep baby’s cot and mattress safe, make sure that:
the plastic wrapping is removed from a new mattress as this could suffocate your baby
the bars are only 50mm–85mm apart, to prevent your baby trapping their arms, legs or head
the cot has no loose or missing pieces
the corner posts should not stick up more than 5mm (babies can strangle if their clothes catch on corner posts that are too high).
the top of the cot side is at least 500mm above the top of the mattress
the paint on the cot is not lead based. If you’re using an old cot, get information on lead-based paints from your Well Child nurse
it’s clean, firm, flat and comfortable
gaps should be less than 25mm, so that a baby can’t get stuck down the side or the end
it doesn’t get damp. Put it in the sunshine, or take it out of the bed regularly.
Waterbeds are not suitable for a baby, because they may suffocate by rolling onto their stomach, with their face into the mattress.
See the Household Cots Safety Standards here for more information.
Your baby should be warm in bed, not too hot or too cold. To make sure your baby is warm enough:
dress your baby, not their bed. So in cooler weather, use more clothing layers on your baby rather than more bedding layers. Your baby will be free to wriggle about while sleeping yet stay warm and safe.
if you use a blanket, make sure it is lightweight, well tucked in under the mattress, and can’t come loose or cover your baby’s face.
if you use a blanket, place your baby near the foot of the cot to stop them slipping down under the covers. Keep their face clear of covers by tucking them in firmly.
check your baby’s back using your two fingers. If it’s warm, baby is warm enough. If baby’s back is hot, take off some covers
always remove a hot water bottle before baby goes to bed
don’t use a wheat bag to hear baby’s bed, they can overheat and burn.
Loose covers may slip over a baby’s face.
Pillows and toys may suffocate a baby.
Bumper pads may suffocate or strangulate a baby.
Sheepskins can collect house dust mites, so they’re not suitable if the family has a history of asthma or allergy. If you want to use a sheepskin, use a short-hair type, and cover it with a sheet.
Loose ribbons, ties or threads on a baby’s clothes may be dangerous.
Don’t let your baby share a bed with anyone who smokes, or is very tired, or takes sleeping pills, or is under the influence of alcohol or social drugs. Babies should not bed-share if their mother smoked during pregnancy. Read more about Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI).
Checklists and information about keeping your baby safe from injury can be found in our safety section. For more information on child safety visit www.acc.co.nz or call 0800 844 657. If you’re worried about your baby’s room, cot or mattress, talk to your Well Child nurse.