While there isn’t one unanimous newborn experience, sleep deprivation is something all new parents share. Those elusive eight hours of shut eye quickly become a distant memory when there's a baby to contest with. Along with the miracle routines, auto-soothing bassinets and sleep aids, baby bedding is a hotly contested issue. Can the linen you choose make any difference to the quality of your baby’s sleep? We deep dive into the topic and cover everything you need to know about dressing a bed for your baby, from the newborn months to the toddler years and beyond.
What to buy for your cot and bassinet.
One of the most contentious topics you’ll ever google is where to put your newborn to sleep. Practically every bassinet, Moses basket, co-sleeper and snuggle pillow comes with a SIDS warning and we aren’t about to enter that debate. There are however some basic recommendations for fitting out your baby bed of choice.
Cot or bassinet, the undisputed advice by paediatricians is to choose a firm mattress and avoid all the fluffy extras. This means bumpers, pillows and sheets should all be vetoed in favour of a quality fitted sheet and a sleeping bag for at least the first 12 months of your baby's life. Accidents are inevitable so be sure to invest in a good washable mattress protector like this one from Nature Baby and have at least a couple fitted sheets as backup.
After your baby turns one and is officially considered a toddler, they are no longer considered a SIDS risk so many of the rules for safe baby sleep no longer apply. It is around now that a duvet and pillow can be introduced into your baby's cot.
Do you need to buy organic?
Increasing evidence suggests that the chemicals permeating out of the sleeping zone or cot are found to give off the most intense VOC fumes, with emissions intensified by body heat. This is especially troubling when you consider the fragility of an infants’ respiratory system.
The language around product classification can be difficult to translate, but if you are concerned about exposing your baby to chemicals, there are two labels that guarantee you won't be duped; Organic and OEKO-Tex.
The simplest way to explain the difference between the two is that organic certification is all about how the raw materials for your fabric is grown. Organic certification means that textile and fabric products are grown according to strict guidelines on the use of petroleum based fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic products.
Oeko-Tex certification is rather about how the fabric is processed, including things like dyes and finishes. To attain Oeko-Tex certification, the fabric has been tested and certified to be free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health.
- The certification is voluntary.
- It must be updated annually.
- Certification is conducted by independent third party laboratories.
- The criteria for Oeko-Tex testing is reviewed every year, so they’re always up to date.
- The testing takes into account every conceivable way that harmful substances can enter the body.
- Oeko-Tex is a global standard, so it’s the same in every country.
Every part of the garment, including stitching, zips, buttons and coatings have been tested. Your skin is permeable, so if you’re wearing clothes that have been processed with harmful chemicals, those chemicals can be absorbed into your body. You should always wash new bedding before you use them anyway, but the Oeko-Tex certification is your guarantee that your new linen has been processed without harmful chemicals.
Should you opt for natural over synthetic?
Natural and synthetic fabrics are two camps of bedding with very different properties. To make an informed decision on which is best for you, there are many things to consider, like your lifestyle, texture preferences and skin sensitivities.
Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, and silk are all breathable, moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic, staying comfortably cool against skin. Synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon and acrylic do not absorb water, enabling them to trap moisture and heat in hot environments, which can make for sweaty and uncomfortable nights. They can also be irritating to sensitive skin and tend to attract static electricity.
Bamboo is a fibre gaining popularity in bedding products, but most often what you find labeled as 'bamboo' sheets are actually rayon. This means the bamboo pulp went through a chemical process to dissolve the pulp, re-solidify it, and then spin it into thread. This process involves harmful chemicals and is potentially hard on the environment, making bamboo sheets less environmentally friendly than its manufacturers claim. It does, however, produce a very soft, durable and silky fabric.
Is linen bedding worth the hype?