How to set up a safe sleep nursery. The products you need and the ones you can do without.

Sleep Safety

Do you know how to identify safe sleep in your little one’s nursery? Would you know how to distinguish the products you really need versus the ones you can do without?

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    Excitement and overwhelm can fill our bodies from the moment we find out we’re pregnant. From friends to family, Instagram to Influencers, Pinterest to Facebook, we receive a constant stream of information about the latest baby products and must have nursery trends….

    Styling the nursery coincides with hormones running wild… and did I mention being PREGNANT! We only want the best for our baby and would never intentionally buy or use unsafe sleep products, however in a world of clever marketing we sometimes have a false sense of security about what is safe for our little one’s sleep.

    The truth is, when it comes to setting up your nursery, babies actually NEED very little.

    In this blog you’ll discover safe sleep practices and common sleep products every parent needs to know a little more about.

    Before we talk about baby sleep products though, let’s talk about Red Nose, the leading authority for safe sleeping in Australia.

    They’re dedicated to promoting safe sleep for your baby and have 6 research backed, safe sleep recommendations for reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also known as Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS/SUIDS).

    The 6 Red Nose Safe Sleep Recommendations

    1. Always place baby on their back to sleep
    2. Keep baby’s face and head uncovered
    3. Keep baby smoke free, before and after birth
    4. Safe sleeping environment, night and day
    5. Sleep baby in a safe cot in parents’ or caregiver’s room for the first 6-12 months
    6. Breastfeed baby

    For more information on Red Nose recommendations, visit the Red Nose Website

    Let’s take a look at popular baby products used for sleeping

    Newborn Bassinets

    Whilst bassinets are becoming increasingly popular due to space constraints in bedrooms and smaller living areas, did you know Australia currently has no safety standards for bassinets?

    Considering the above statement, here are some tips to help you choose a bassinet if you don’t opt to go straight to a cot:

    Opt for a bassinet with a sturdy bottom and wide stable base. This will ensure the bassinet can’t tip over.

    • Check all four sides of the bassinet are at least 300mm higher than the top of the mattress base. This stops baby falling out.
    • Choose a firm, flat mattress that’s the correct size for your chosen bassinet. Note: The mattress should be no thicker than 75mm in thickness.
    • Select a bassinet with good breathability zones on all four sides. This reduces the risk of suffocation and provides good ventilation for baby.

    For more on bassinet safety, check out the Red Nose recommendations for bassinets 

    Baby Sleep Foundations

    A self-paced course teaching you how to create & maintain baby sleep foundations. 

    Get 12 months access to:

    • 9 modules with over 3 hrs of videos
    • Downloadable resources
    • Further discounted 1:1 support
    • A members-only Facebook group

    Cots and Cot Safety

    Where possible, I recommend transitioning from a bassinet to a cot and choosing a cot that meets Australian standard AS/NZS 2172:2003.

    Did you know that you can review and compare cots by CHOICE?

    This is a publication of the Australian consumer organisation of that name and non-profit organisation which gives you an overall safety recommendation between different brands.

    Two simple rules for cot safety

    If you remember anything about cots and what you can place in them, the two simple rules to live by are:


    • Make sure the mattress is firm with no added padding such as lamb’s wool above or below the mattress. Adding padding can make the mattress soft and is a potential suffocation risk.
    • Make sure there is no more than a 20mm gap between the mattress and the cot sides and ends.
    • Use a firm sleep surface that is compliant with the new AS/NZS Voluntary Standard (AS/NZS 8811.1:2013 Methods of testing infant products – Sleep Surfaces – Test for firmness). More on this here


    There’s no reason to elevate the cot, even if bub has reflux. This places your little one at additional risk of slipping/tipping into the edges of the cot (or bassinet) and they can also become tangled in blankets used for swaddled babies who are tucked in from the waist down.

    The common belief that being more upright will use gravity in baby’s favour to keep the stomach contents down has been researched and shown it makes no difference and thus removes the recommendation to elevate the cot. Read more about this here

    Padded Cocoons

    Padded cocoons such as the ever-popular Bubnest are not recommended for use of unsupervised sleep in the day or night. This means they’re not recommended to be placed in the bassinet, cot, pram or between parents in bed as a means of “separate sleep space”.

    Unless your baby will be 100% supervised, don’t leave your baby to sleep in a padded cocoon. This is also stated on the bubnest website which explains, “The Baby Nest is intended for supervised naps only. We recommend to follow safe sleeping guidelines by The Red Nose Foundation.”

    Bumpers and Pillows

    Soft bedding such as pillows, quilts, doonas, soft toys and bumpers are unsafe and shouldn’t be in your baby’s cot or bassinet. The reason for this is soft bedding may cover the baby’s face and obstruct breathing and/or cause overheating.

    Older babies in a cot can be at an increased risk of a sleeping accident by using pillows and bumpers as a step to climb up and fall out of the cot.

    It’s safest to wait until the child starts to sleep in a bed before introducing a pillow or other soft bedding. Red Nose has great advice on this. Read more about it here


    We recognise and know that co-sleeping often occurs.  If you do choose this option for your family, Red Nose have now put together tips for safer co-sleeping

    My top 5 recommendations for a safe sleep environment set up

    1. Swaddle/Sleeping bag to provide optimum temperature regulation
    2. Room warmed or cooled to 18-20 degrees in winter and 20-22 degrees in summer
    3. No mobiles over the cot – save them for the change table
    4. Place the cot against a wall without a window. This minimises the risk of baby getting tangled in blinds/curtains
    5. Firm/flat fitted sheet with no other loose objects in the cot besides a comforter from 7+ months of age

    There’s a lot to consider on the topic of sleep safety and I encourage you to take a look around your nursery to ensure it’s both safe and meeting the sleep safety guidelines outlined by Red Nose.

    The Red Nose Website is a great place for further information.

    PS My Fourth Trimester Realistic Expectations Guide is available here. Find out everything you need to know about the first 12 weeks with your baby.


    Kelly Martin Sleep Consultant

    Helping babies get a good nights sleep

    Our mission is to empower parents with the knowledge and education about how they can help their little one develop and maintain healthy sleep habits. Are you ready to regain your sleep?

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