I have had questions from colleagues about the use of hammocks. Do you have information around that, as a baby is not flat, but on back, face clear and in own baby bed? (November 2009)
Hammocks are technically 'beds designed for babies', so many of the hazards of non-infant designed sleeping places are minimized, such as other people in the bed, adult pillows et cetera. However, hammocks vary in how flat a baby can lie or how close to the sides the face is. Babies need to lie flat, with their head slightly extended to protect their airway and ensure that gravity keeps the heavy head from falling forward.
Physical safety can be a problem in hammocks if the swing arc is too great, the baby is supported to lie in a curled position of the neck, is tipped from the back into another position, or the sides of the hammock are close to a baby's face. Again, the principles can be used as a check. Whatever the baby bed, does it support a baby to lie flat and on the back? Can the baby maintain a clear face and maintain the supine position throughout the sleep event. Is the baby able to get into a different position or situation during sleep that would compromise breathing (i.e. being face-up, face clear).
People may need to get used to using the principles of 'face-up, face clear, smokefree' to answer questions, and the more parents or health professionals are directed to check a situation against the principles, the more confident they will beecome about safety.