Lorraine’s advice: choosing the safer product for baby

Senior Red Nose Educator and Midwife Lorraine tell us about her role at Red Nose, answers a common question about child safety, and how to choose the safer product for your baby.


What’s your role at Red Nose?

My role at Red Nose is Red Nose Educator. I work in the Advice Hub providing information and advice for parents and carers, I answer questions via our Safe Sleep Advice Line. I also train early childhood educators and health professionals in safe sleeping, and also how to support families when the unthinkable happens.

What’s your background?

I’m a nurse and midwife. I’ve worked at Red Nose for over 15 years, and before that I worked as an emergency nurse here in New South Wales.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

There is no typical day at Red Nose! Each day is quite different, as we’re responding to the various calls and questions from parents and carers.

I spend most days speaking to parents on the phone, answering their questions via email or through our online “Ask a question” hub.

Some of the questions are straightforward, and then others require more reassurance and support. Some parents are really struggling and anxious. They need reassurance that they’re doing the right thing. During the height of the pandemic, we saw a 30% increase in the number of questions with parents’ anxiety being much higher than normal.

It’s only natural to feel like this, and we will help you in any we can. Everyone in the team is a parent themselves, so we all understand what you’re going through and we’re here to help.

What is the Safe Sleep Advice Line and what sort of questions do people ask?

The Red Nose Safe Sleep Advice is a free service for parents, grandparents, carers and anyone who has questions about safe sleeping and infant and child safety.

The national phone line is manned during business hours by trained Red Nose Educators who answer questions about everything from how to set up a safe nursery, room temperature, swaddling, bassinettes and cots, using blankets, room sharing, product safety – and everything in between.

We also now provide information and advice about safer pregnancy and ways for women to reduce their risk of stillbirth – we know that not all stillbirths are preventable, but there are things women can do to reduce their risk.

You can call us on 1300 998 698 (during business hours AEST) or email education@rednose.org.au

What’s the most common question you get from parents?

By far and away, the most common question we receive from parents is “what do I do now that my baby is rolling and they want to sleep on their tummy instead of their back?”

I think this is a really great question, because it shows that parents are really hearing the message about how important it is for baby to always be placed on their back to sleep.

So what is the answer – what happens once baby can roll?

Most babies begin to show signs of rolling from about 4 months of age, some earlier and some later.

The safest way for baby to sleep is on their back, so we always recommend that you place baby on their back when you put them sleep – this makes sure baby’s airway is kept clear so they don’t accidentally suffocate or choke. But not all babies like sleeping on their back.

Once baby can roll themselves over and back without assistance, it is okay to let them find their own natural sleeping position. We recommend still placing them to sleep on their back, and then letting them settle in their own way. But, it’s important to still do regular checks to make sure they are staying safe and sleeping soundly.

This can be a stressful time for parents, so I really recommend calling us on the Safe Sleep Advice Line and we can go through some strategies together for keeping baby safe.

What advice do you have for parents in selecting the safest products for their baby?

Most parents only want to do what’s best and safest for their children. There is a lot of information out there, but not all of it is safe.

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 recommendations which is 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, and we can help you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Lorraine’s tips for what to think about when you’re looking at buying a product

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

What do you like best about working at Red Nose?

The favourite part of my job at Red Nose is seeing families develop more confidence with their baby - the “ahaa – now I get it” is very rewarding.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

My nine grandchildren keep me very busy!

Safe Sleep Advice Hub
Call 1300 998 698 (during business hours) or email education@rednose.org.au