Baby sleep and health


How can I reduce the risk of cot death?

You will receive information from hospital about how to reduce your risk of cot death. This is issued by the Department of Health and the main message is:

  • Place your baby on his or her back to sleep, in a cot in a room with you;
  • Do not smoke in pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby;
  • Do not share a bed with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, if you take drugs or if you are a smoker;
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair;
  • Do not let your baby get too hot;
  • Keep your babys head uncovered;
  • Place your baby in the feet to foot position. Reduce the risk of cot death.

Is there any particular place where the cot should go?

As previously discussed the baby should be in your room for 6 months. The cot should not be next to a radiator as this can be too hot. It is similarly not a good idea to place it next to an outside wall as this can be too cold or not next to a window in case of drafts.
What should the room temperature be?

Between 16-20.c. You can get card thermometers from most baby shops.
Are there any specific illnesses or problems that affect babies that I should look out for?

It is so important that if you are concerned at all about your baby, you get things checked out by a health advisor or Doctor. Babies are extremely clever when they are ill and compensate very effectively BUT will not be able to do this for a long period of time and subsequently deteriorate very quickly, which is why if you feel there is something wrong, you need to get it seen to.

For other,less serious observations but still important, the babys eyes should be clear and not sticky or infected. Cleaning the eyes should not be part of the daily routine but if sticky should be. Ensure your hands are clean, using a clean piece of cotton wool (soaked in cooled boiled water) for each eye and using one sweep from the inside of the eye to the outside. Removing any of the sticky residues. If this persists then book an appointment to see you GP as this may need some kind of treatment.

Thrush can be either oral or on their bottom area. Thrush is a fungal infection and can cause some discomfort especially around the mouth as this interferes with feeding. It is recognisable by white patches around the mouth, tongue or even gum areas. It is more likely to happen in formula fed babies. You will need a course of treatment prescribed by your GP.

Thrush on the bottom area can look like nappy rash. It will not go away with any nappy rash creams. Again, a course of treatment is required to treat it.

Paronychia (nail bed infection) is an infection of the nail fold. It presents with redness and inflammation and needs antibiotics if infected.

A common cause of rash in babies is the washing powder. Choose non-biological powders. If your baby has a rash always show it to your midwife.

Erythema toxicum baby acne is a common rash. It is a small blotchy area with either a white or yellow head on it. If your baby is otherwise well it is of no concern.

Milia is a small pinpoint white spot usually on the babys nose or chin. There is no cause for concern or any treatment.

MENINGITIS is a very serious condition that requires early detection and early treatment. The rash is red or purple with small spots that grow into patches. The tumbler test is an effective way of detecting this rash as when rolled over the affected area it will not fade when pressed. Seek urgent assistance with this type of rash.

What is the normal temperature to bath your baby in?

It is 36-38.c, but the old fashioned elbow test is effective.

Are there any foods to avoid now I have had the baby?

No, there are no specific foods you need to avoid so you can now eat the pate or soft veined cheeses that you refrained from eating in pregnancy. However, alcohol should be drunk in moderation and with caution especially as you are caring for a baby that is solely dependent on you. If you are breast feeding, alcohol and caffeine also crosses into the breast milk so it is best to limit the amount you drink.
My baby has hard lumps around their breasts is that normal?

Yes, they have hard, little lumps where the breast is. Boys and girls get them. They are present at birth but most parents notice them around day 3. It is important to leave them alone and do not squeeze or prod them; they will go back to being soft at around 2 weeks old.

Why do babies get jaundiced?

Once the baby is born and using their own circulation they do not require as many red blood cells as they did in the womb. They need to naturally break down these extra red blood cells. This process usually happens in the liver. The liver of a newborn is immature at this stage and doesnt always manage this process. So the red blood cells are broken down by bilirubin which is a yellow colour and can be seen on the skin and whites of the eyes. If you notice your baby is jaundiced on the first day they are born then this is not classed as physiological jaundice and will need medical attention. Feeding will help to clear the jaundice. If your baby is not interested in feeding then your midwife needs to know. The jaundice is most apparent between days 2-5.
When does my baby get a hearing test?

Most hospitals have a hearing screener that visits during your hospital stay. If there are any problems or you were not seen in hospital then you will be sent a letter to attend a session in the community.

Do I need to clean the babys umbilical cord stump?

You should check your babys cord every time you change the nappy to ensure there is no redness, swelling or sticky ooze from the base. If there are any of these signs, use cooled boiled water to wipe around the base and let your midwife know so that they can assess the cord themselves. Although uncommon, the cord can get infected and if this were to happen it would need treatment to prevent further complications.

Please see our video preview "Swaddling your Baby" - Click here.