Safe Sleeping

Where should my baby sleep?

Being a new parent is an exciting and challenging time.

It is normal for your baby to wake several times at night for a feed.

The Department of Health recommend that the safest place for your baby to sleep is on its back in a cot next to the parents’ bed.

Take a minute to check if either you or your partner have any of these risk factors

Do either of you smoke?

Have either of you consumed alcohol?

Have either of you taken medication or drugs that affect sleep pattern?

Are either of you tired affecting your ability to respond to baby?

Do you have an illness affecting your responses?

Is your baby premature or of low birth weight?

If you can confidently answer NO to these questions and you are exclusively breastfeeding there is some evidence to suggest that sharing a bed with your baby may prolong the time that you continue to breastfeed your baby.

If you answer YES to any of the questions and are formula feeding, sharing a bed with your baby significantly increases the risk of cot death.

NEVER FALL ASLEEP ON A SOFA WITH YOUR BABY AS THIS IS 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO RESULT IN COT DEATH

If your circumstances change in anyway please review the above safe sleeping advice.

Speak to your midwife/ health visitor if you have any concerns about bed sharing and look for the pathway in your parent child health records (red book)

The advice is relevant for all sleeping periods not just night time sleep

  • The baby sleeping in his/her own separate environment such as a cot or Moses basket within the parents room for the first 6 months (DH)
  • Not sharing a sleeping area e.g. sofa, armchair etc., as this is one of the most high risk situations for a baby. Studies have found that sharing a sofa or armchair with a baby whilst you both sleep is associated with an extremely high risk of SIDS. One study found that approximately one-sixth of infants in England and Wales who died of SIDS were found sleeping with an adult on a sofa. (Lullaby Trust).
  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat mattress. They should be slept feet-to-foot (unless using a sleep bag).
  • The mattress should be firm, flat and have a waterproof layer which can be wiped down and kept clean. This will prevent bacteria from collecting in the foam. The baby’s mattress should be in good condition with no tears, holes or sagging.
  • Appropriate room temperature between 16 -18 C.
  • Use of sheets, light blankets or baby sleeping bag not duvets, quilts, nests, wedges or pillows.
  • Overheating is associated with an increased risk of sudden infant death.

  • Place the baby’s feet to the foot of the cot to prevent them slipping down under the bedding.

Babies need just a few basic items for sleep: a firm flat surface and some bedding. New parents now have a massive range of baby products to choose from and it can be really confusing to know what is needed. The advice is simple: the safest cot is a clear cot.

There is evidence to suggest that babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered and some items added to a cot may increase the risk of head-covering. Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot can also increase the risk of accidents. Make sure that any product you use meets the relevant British safety standard. Whilst evidence on individual items is not widely available, it makes sense to be as cautious as possible. We therefore recommend babies are slept in cots that are kept as clear as possible and specifically advise:

  • No pillows or duvets;
  • No cot bumpers;
  • No soft toys;
  • No loose bedding;
    • No products to keep a baby in one sleeping position such as wedges or straps.

We cannot comment on individual products, but would advise parents to read the safety advice when making choices.

Breastfeeding information for parents