Safer sleep for babies

Becoming a new parent is a very special time and can be quite a daunting experience, especially when you are responsible for keeping your baby safe.

A safe place for baby to sleep

The safest place for a baby to sleep is on their back in a clear cot or Moses basket at the side of your bed for the first six months. This includes any sleep period, day or night whether this is at your home or away. It can also reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Firmly tuck in sheets or blankets, no higher than the baby’s shoulders, OR a baby sleeping bag can be used following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Make sure the cot or Moses basket is free from any toys, teddies or loose blankets.
  • The baby’s head and face should be uncovered, and no hats warn indoors.
  • Make sure the room is not too hot (the ideal temperature is between 16˚- 20˚c). Radiators should be switched off if baby is sleeping next to them.

Watch this safer sleep video from the Lullaby Trust for some top tips:

Please talk to your midwife if you have any questions or concerns about safer sleeping.

Keeping your baby smoke free during pregnancy and birth

  • Babies should be kept out of smoky environments including the home and the car.
  • If you or your partner smoke or you smoked during pregnancy you should not share a bed with your baby.

See our smoke free pregnancy web page for help to stop smoking.

Bed sharing and co-sleeping safely

Whether you choose to put baby in a cot or Moses basket, or in bed next to you, it's vital that you follow safer sleep advice to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Some babies are vulnerable due to specific factors and therefore it is not recommended to bed share or co-sleep if:

  • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • The mother has smoked in pregnancy
  • Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
  • You are extremely tired
  • Your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less)
  • Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less)
  • Your baby is formula fed
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby, this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.

If you do choose to co-sleep, watch this video from the Lullaby trust which shows how you can do so safely: 

Because every night is different, parents should think about their baby’s bed-sharing safety every time.

Safe baby wearing

Carriers and slings allow parents to keep their babies close as part of the bonding process. They provide comfort and support for the baby as well as freeing up your hands to get on with everyday tasks.

The safest method of baby wearing is when the baby is solid against your body, in an upright position.

Ensure baby’s airway does not become blocked and follow the ‘T.I.C.K.S’ universal guidance for baby wearing:

  • Tight
  • In view at all times
  • Close enough to kiss
  • Keep chin off the chest
  • Supported back.

A car seat is not a safe sleeping environment

Babies will often fall to sleep in a car seat, however for pre-term and young babies it’s recommended that you avoid travelling in cars for long distances.

Research into the link between car seats and SIDS found young babies may be at risk of breathing difficulties if they travel while sitting in an upright position for too long.

  • After a car journey, the baby should be removed from the car seat. The car seat is not a safe sleeping environment for a baby.
  • Place the baby in their cot, Moses basket or pram.
  • On long car journey’s babies need regular breaks (some manufacturers recommend 2 hours).

Visit the Lullaby Trust website for more information on car seats and safer sleeping