Preparing for baby: our guide for new dads

Congratulations on your new baby! There’s no doubt that preparing for and welcoming a new baby is a special and exciting time. But with so much information out there, it can also be overwhelming.

So we’ve put together a list of the top questions dads usually ask us at pregnancy and child expos.


I am buying a second-hand cot – what should I look for?

Pre-loved nursery items that are in good condition are a great way to save you money, but it important to still make sure they are safe.

When purchasing a second-hand cot choose one that:

  • meets the Australian Standard for Safety for Cots: AS/NZS 2172
  • has a flat and firm mattress that fits snugly (within 20mm of sides and ends)
  • comes with full instructions for assembly and use
  • is sturdy and stable, with no missing parts
  • is functional and works correctly
  • has no tears, sharp edges or sharp points
  • has had no changes made to it that could make it unsafe, such as rough repairs
  • has no history of being in an accident or being damaged
  • can be fixed, if necessary, by the original business that sold it.

Grandad painted the cot – what if baby sucks on it?

Young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because they tend to put their hands and other objects in their mouths. As they develop, they can stand up in the cot and often chew and suck on the edges of the wood.

It is perfectly fine that the cot has been repainted – just make sure that the paint used was NOT lead-based and is non-toxic.

Can we use a bassinet at our parent’s house when we visit?

Yes. It is important to understand, though that bassinettes do not carry Australian Standards for Safety. Our checklist can help you make the safest choice:

  • the item has a sturdy bottom with a wide base
  • the size and shape is suitable for age and weight of baby
  • the sides are at least 300mm higher than the top of the mattress
  • ensure the mattress is snug fitting and not greater than 75mm thick to prevent accidental suffocation
  • if the legs fold, ensure that they can be locked and won’t collapse when used
  • REMOVE all decorative trims and bows that could be a strangulation hazard for your baby and NEVER use bumpers or extra bedding
  • make up the bassinette the same way that you would a safe cot, as per Red Nose Safe Sleep Recommendations.

And as soon as baby start showing signs of being able to roll, it’s time to switch to a safe cot or portable cot.

How do I wrap/swaddle baby?

Safe wrapping or swaddling is a wonderful way to soothe and settle babies for sleep. We receive many questions about how to wrap baby safely properly, so we have developed a step-by-step video to help you. Watch the video now.

What is the difference between a swaddle and a swaddle bag with a zip?

There are a plethora of swaddles, infant wraps and wearable blankets for sale in Australia and online – but not all of them are recommended for safer sleep.

Some of these products have combined the features of a traditional wrap/swaddle with an infant sleeping bag to try and make life easier for parents.

But while they may seem like a time-saver, Red Nose does not typically recommend these hybrid products as they can create an unacceptable risk of suffocation or overheating that could lead to sudden infant death.

Here are a few things to be aware of when selecting a swaddle or swaddle bag with zip:

  • The material should never cover the face or head, and baby should not be able to pull the fabric up over the face or head.
  • Always ensure that the item fits your baby properly – it can be tempting to buy a larger suit that baby will grow into, but that risks the material being able to cover baby’s face and nose when baby raises their hands above their head during sleep.
  • All sleeping attire designed to cover the baby’s shoulders should have separate neck and arm holes so baby’s arms are free of any material or other obstructions.
  • Choose a wrap that is lightweight to reduce the risk of overheating.
  • Wrapping should be discontinued as soon as baby shows the first signs of being able to roll.

What about pillows?

Pillows are not necessary for baby and increase the risk of sudden infant death including SIDS and fatal sleep accidents. Red Nose recommends delaying the introduction of a pillow until 2 years of age.

Pillows can become dislodged and cover a baby’s face which can obstruct their airway and cause overheating.

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

What do you think of moulded sleeping bases to stop baby rolling?

Research has found that sleeping your baby on their back greatly reduces the risk of sudden infant death. The safest position to sleep a baby is on their back, on a flat surface.

There are products that act as anti-roll devices or positioners to keep baby on their back or fix baby into a sleeping position.

Red Nose does not recommend these items, as they can increase the risk of baby overheating or suffocating.

How do I know if the product I’m buying is safe?

Most parents only want to do what’s best and safest for their children. It’s important to remember that babies’ needs are fairly simple. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of products on the market, and many feel pressured to buy all of them.

We recommend that you think about your baby’s needs first – and remember that there is no evidence that a specific baby care product can reduce or eliminate the risk of sudden infant death or SIDS.

The best way to keep baby safe is to follow our six safe sleep recommendation which are the result of over 40 years of research.

When you’re buying a product for baby, we want you to make the best informed decision based on evidence of product safety. You can call us and ask questions about the product you are intending to buy.

It’s often assumed that all nursery products sold in Australia must be safe, however we know that many products have never been formally tested and some don’t have to follow mandatory safety standards.

They often attract parents with the promise of making sleeping, teething or carrying easier. But without safety regulations or proper use guidelines, they could cause a serious incident.

But don’t be overly scared. There are many good products available especially from stores such as BIG W, and we can help you know what to look for and what to avoid.


  1. Is the product I am thinking of buying/using safe for my baby especially during sleep?
  2. Does the product follow Red Nose safe sleep recommendations?
  3. Does this product allow my baby to sleep on their back, on a flat surface, with their head and face uncovered?
  4. What are the potential benefits of using this product and what are the potential hazards?
  5. Am I using the product in the correct way?
  6. What is my baby/infant doing in this product, and does this create any potential hazards?
  7. Has my baby reached the appropriate developmental milestone suitable for the product?

What are your six safe sleep recommendations?

Red Nose recommends six key steps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death:

  1. Sleep your baby on their back: not on their tummy or side.
  2. Keep your baby’s head and face uncovered: Covering baby’s face or head with clothing such as a hat increases the risk of sudden infant death
  3. Keep your baby smoke free before and after birth
  4. Use a safe sleeping environment night and day: Make sure the mattress is firm and flat, in a safe cot that meets industry standards. Make sure there are no blankets, toys, pillows, or bumpers in the cot.
  5. Sleep your baby in your room: The safest place to sleep your baby for the first 6 months is in a safe cot next to your bed.
  6. Breastfeed your baby.

For more advice on safe sleeping and safe pregnancy, visit our Advice Hub or call our Safe Sleep and Safer Pregnancy Advice Line on 1300 998 698 (business hours).

Last modified: 22/8/22