As a mother of 2 boys I who are very close in age I fully understand the need to want them to sleep as much as possible because a few minutes of peace and quiet are exactly what a tired mother needs.
Kids sometimes fall asleep in funny places when they are tired and especially if they have had a wonderfully busy morning or day. Playmats, the floor, the sofa, the carpet, you name it, my boys have tried to sleep there. However, is it ok to let them sleep anywhere they want to?
In general a baby cannot safely sleep on a play mat; however a baby can take a short daytime nap safely on a play mat as long as all safe sleep guidelines are followed to ensure there is no risk to the baby’s health.
Continue reading for more information on safe sleep.
Baby’s naps are essential to a parent’s sanity and wellbeing but making sure to follow safe sleep guidelines for all baby’s sleep is essential to your baby’s health and wellbeing.
Following a routine
It might seem so easy to just let your baby sleep wherever and whenever they like because they are tired and so are you as a parent, but setting and sticking to a routine for sleep will help a lot especially when it comes to nap and nighttime sleep.
Having a fixed routine will let your baby know when it is time to go to sleep and help with fewer waking times during the night as well. As long as you are consistent and stick to the same routine your baby will get used to that because you are getting them used to it.
Some tips to follow when putting your baby down for naps:
- Ensure your baby is placed on their back to sleep.
- Try to avoid nap times in a different place constantly
- Try to follow a routine for sleep and nap times
- Follow baby’s sleep ques:
- Baby is rubbing their eyes
- Baby seems restless and moody for no reason
- Crying or whining without reason
- Dark circles under their eyes
- Losing interest in playing
- Not interested in toys or games
- Stretching and squirming
- Missing your baby’s sleep cues could result in overstimulation so try to look out for these
- Babies usually follow a set sleep schedule by age group, so make a note of your baby’s nap times and try to be prepared for the timings you know your baby will want to sleep.
- Baby’s sleep patterns change as they grow so expect them to be awake for longer periods and to sleep at different times as they grow.
- Change your baby’s schedule as they grow but don’t change their routine
- A strong routine is key to a good sleep cycle:
Note: Sleep routine should consist of calming activities and should not consist of activities that stimulate your baby. Some ideas to use to set a good sleep routine may include: washing hands and feet or taking a bath, changing the diaper, milk, brushing teeth, reading a story, turning off the lights, and then sleeping. Singing a lullaby with dimmed lights to calm baby is also a good sleep time activity you can add to your routine.
Safe sleep guidelines for your baby
Following safe sleep, guidelines are important for your baby’s health and also for your peace of mind. When putting your baby down to sleep or when your baby takes a nap there are certain factors that need to be considered in order to ensure your little one is safe and sound during their sleep.
Always make sure your baby is in a safe and secure environment when sleeping to avoid the possibility of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or other sleep-related hazards or
Short or daytime naps
During short or daytime naps a baby can safely sleep on the floor, on a carpet, on a play mat or even on their tummy as long as these safe sleep guidelines are followed:
- Baby should have constant supervision (Do not leave your baby to sleep unattended on a play mat or on their tummy)
- No pets should be able to get to the baby. A cat or dog may suffocate your baby or hurt them if they walk, sit, or lay down on them accidentally.
- No older siblings should be around. An older sibling may end up hurting the baby accidentally if they are sleeping on the floor or play mat.
- Baby is on a flat, firm service (not elevated on a pillow or anything else)
- Baby is in a safe, environment, not near any loose lying suffocation hazards or low hanging curtains.
Amy Vogelaar, a certified midwife, lactation consultant, baby calm teacher, baby-led weaning teacher, and Co-Founder at Love Parenting UAE, says: “As long as no pets or older siblings are likely to interfere with baby, and someone is present and monitoring there is no reason they can’t sleep there. In fact, even supervised tummy time naps are a great way to get some more tummy time in during the day.”
Long or nighttime sleep
During night sleep, long sleep, or during naps that are not constantly supervised it is not advised to let your baby sleep on a play mat or carpet as these can pose a hazard.
The following guidelines should be taken into consideration for safe sleep:
- Eliminate all hazards that may affect your baby’s health or safety
- Loose lying blankets
- Cot/ Crib bumpers
- Soft toys
- Electric outlets or wires
- Anything that may pose as a fire hazard
- Loose bedding
- Floor mats or play mats
- Loose fitted or removable clothes such as socks or gloves (rather use a baby sleeping bag or a full baby onesie.
- This includes room sharing – so sharing the room with siblings or parents (but not sharing a bed)
- Ensure that pets are not able to get into the room as they may end up suffocating or injuring the baby if they are able to get to them.
- Ensure the room is cleaned, vacuumed or swept and mopped daily to keep dust, dust mites, fungus or mold from getting in and causing your baby to get sick.
- Make sure your baby is placed on a firm, hard surface to sleep
- Baby should be placed to sleep on their BACK. Putting a baby to sleep on their side may result in rolling. Sleeping on their tummy may result in suffocations and increases the chance of SIDS.
- Instead of a blanket use a baby-safe sleeping bag which is a sleeping bag specially designed to keep a baby warm it has no hood, armholes, and a fitted neck so it does not ride up and will not cause suffocation or pose a hazard to your baby.
- Ensure your bay’s face and head are not covered during sleep (Do not put a hat on your baby during sleep as this can cause your baby to become overheated and can also pose a suffocation hazard if it comes off.)
- Do not put your baby to sleep in clothes with a hood as this can pose a choking or suffocation hazard and may also cause your baby to become overheated.
- If you want to use a blanket instead of a sleeping bag, follow these guidelines:
- Tuck the base of the blanket firmly and securely under the base of the mattress (you can pin it in place under the mattress using safety pins in needed – DO NOT use safety pins on the top of the mattress as this can be a hazard)
- Place your baby’s feet at the end of the cot or bed where the blanket is securely tucked under the mattress
- Ensure the blanket cannot ride up higher than the baby’s chest and does not pose the risk of covering your baby’s face or head.
Babies can safely sleep on a play mat as long as they are correctly supervised and following safe sleep guidelines a baby can be kept safe during all naps and sleep.
Remember to always do what is best for your baby and not to do just what is more convenient for you. Your baby’s health, safety, and wellbeing should always come first no matter what.
If you are sitting with your baby and constantly supervising their naps then by all means allow them to nap where they are comfortable. However, if you are not able to fully supervise your bay’s naps or if you are unsure, then place your baby is a safe sleeping space to ensure their safety.
Article checked by:
Dr Binu George – Consultant General Pediatric
(MBBS, FRCPCH, Dual CCST (UK), Paediatric Neurodisability)
Head Of Department, Child Development Department at
NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates