I love baby quilts, they are small, easy to make and there are so many adorable patterns to choose. But, I want to distinguish very clearly between play quilts and bed quilts.
A cot quilt looks so cute. But what about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)? Nobody wants to put a baby at risk and the research is becoming very clear. Risk factors are: Age (between 0 and 6 months); Underlying vulnerability (more research needed); and an external stress such as overheating (this is the one we can do something about). https://rednose.com.au/article/why-are-safe-sleeping-recommendations-so-important). Babies without hats are better at regulating their heat, so no beanies or hoods in bed. Baby sleeping bags (without hoods) mean that baby cannot kick off the blankets or wriggle down under them. Blankets, if used, should be light and breathable such as cotton waffle blankets (hold it up against a fan, can you feel the air?). They should be tucked in firmly under the cot mattress. Bumpers are considered a risk factor for suffocation as are sheepskins, soft toys and pillows. Basically, baby gets a cot mattress (firm), a fitted sheet, and a sleeping bag or breathable blanket. The safe sleeping position is on their back, not front or side. (My son would ONLY sleep on his front. He’s grown up now, but at the time, with the research fresh out, it was a worry.)
Wall hangings and play quilts, on the other hand are a completely different matter. A little wall quilt hung above the cot personalises the space and gives baby something bright and colourful to focus on when awake. I like to make them about 90 cm square and I add a hanging sleeve so the mum to be can choose to hang the quilt or use it as a play quilt.
A play quilt is perfect at home or when out. It can be put down on the floor, softening the floorboards, or covering the carpet. When baby is placed on his or her tummy, the bright colours are engaging and encourage baby to lift the head. As baby grows “I spy” quilts or pictorial quilts or quilts with images or motifs are perfect for baby to learn to identify shapes and colours.
I think a little quilt in the change bag is worth the small amount of space it takes up. You know those awful moments, I mean hours, waiting at the doctor or the airport ….. nowhere to put baby down that you feel ok about. Just whip out a small quilt and baby has a clean place to lie. This is also great if you need to change baby and need somewhere you feel OK about lying them down. Quilts are washable and keep baby away from dusty carpets and public surfaces..
But there are other adorable baby presents. The 25 pink ruffled frocks mum gets given may each get one wearing before baby has grown out of them, but the hand embroidered ‘stretch’n’gro’ onesies will be worn every day. A few grub roses on the collar or between the top press studs is all that’s needed to turn ordinary into special. A little appliqué teddy bear or sailing boat does the same thing.
Bibs are another item that can be personalised. I know there are many cute baby bibs out there, but this has its scary side. (“What?” I hear you ask. Bear with me). Research has shown that babies follow the path of their dribble with their eyes. This means that as young as 6 months, babies with well-known cartoon characters on their bibs have brand recognition. Yes, that is correct, 6 month old babies are the victims of marketing. (If you want a really good book on this, read “What’s happening to our girls?” by Maggie Hamilton). Now you might be quite ok with this, but I think it’s a reason to use more generic imagery on a baby bib. Buy or make plain bibs and add some brightly coloured starfish or a cute puppy.
When it comes to bed quilts, I think the best thing to do is save it for the first big bed. Baby items are cute, but they grow out of them so quickly. A quilt which is long in the making, should have a long life in being loved and used. There is no one so proud as a child with a new bed and a special quilt made just for them. When my eldest daughter went off to university, several of her friends had brought patchwork quilts from home, made by mum or grandma usually. When they realised most of them had a quilt, they took them down the park and had a teddy bears’ picnic, just for fun. (One of the girls had a handmade hexie quilt. Take a breath, it was treasured, even down the park). My daughter had a nine patch she had sewn the blocks for when she was four and even though some of the fabric has been patched, she still has it on her bed. I think this first big bed quilt is the one that will be treasured.
Good homemade presents for baby
- Sleeping bag with armholes cut out and a well-fitting neck (no hood). I think what they want is a sleeping bag which cannot ride up over the face.
- Breathable blanket that can be tucked well under the cot mattress comforter
- Fitted cot sheet pillow
- Hand embroidered ‘stretch’n’grow’
- Personalised bib
- Embroidered or appliquéd towel
- Beanie, knitted or stretch fabric
- Personalised tote bag
- Nappy covers
- Soft toys (but not for the cot)