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Barwon Health / Maternity Services

(03) 4215 2060

Safe sleep & settling

Babies have different sleep patterns. Do not compare your babies sleep pattern to others. In the first weeks of life babies average 16-18 hours a day. It is important to remember;

  • Babies have varied sleep needs and patterns
  • It takes some babies several months to know the difference between day and night
  • Some babies settle more easily than others

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death 

In Australia the current recommendations for putting a baby down to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome or sudden unexplained death in infancy are;

  • Sleep the baby on its back from birth. Not on its side or tummy
  • Sleep with babies head and face uncovered
  • Keep baby in a smoke free environment
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment day and night
  • Take babies bib off
  • Sleep the baby on a firm surface, never on a sofa, bean bag or water bed
  • Do not use pillows, cot bumpers, or soft toys in the cot
  • Use light blankets and light clothing rather than heavier ones
  • Sleep baby in his/her own sleeping space in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first 6-12 months
  • Breastfeed your baby

Sharing a sleeping space with your baby is not recommended as it increases the risk of SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. If you are feeding your baby in bed then move your baby to its own sleeping space at the conclusion of the feed.

If you are really tired set an alarm to wake someone else to help you put the baby into its own sleeping space.

Dummies may be used once breastfeeding is established. 

Click here to read the Red Nose Safe Sleep guide. 

When your baby is unsettled

Babies cry for lots of reasons, including

  • being wet or dirty
  • feeling hungry
  • uncomfortable
  • unwell
  • wanting to be held

Your baby crying is not an indication of your parenting. Some babies can cry a lot and for long periods of time. This crying is called colic. This can be very difficult for you. It can make you feel anxious, helpless, frustrated incompetent and even angry. If your baby is crying for long periods it may be helpful to speak with your Maternal Child Health Nurse or your family doctor.

Settling your baby

As you get to know your baby you will learn to recognise the tone of each crying episode and what your baby needs. You generally find this out by trial and error.

Some things to try and check;

  • Make sure that your baby is not hungry, wet/dirty, has wind or just wanting a cuddle
  • Is your baby too hot or too cold or wrapped too tight
  • Is your baby unwell
  • Wrap your baby firmly and provide gentle rocking or rhythmic patting or take your baby for a walk in the pram
  • Reduce the stimulation in the room. Make it darker, quieter, and add soft music
  • Give your baby a warm bath and or a gentle massage


Last Modified: Tuesday, 21 February 2023

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