Safe sleep for your baby

cartoon image of baby lying in a cot in correct sleeping position

Once you are home with your baby you may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information you have been given, and the steep learning curve you are on with a new baby.

One of the most important pieces of information you need to pay attention to is how to make sure your baby sleeps safely.

The Lullaby Trust have produced guidance on safe sleeping practices for babies which can be viewed on their website. Their top 3 recommendations are:

  • Put babies on their BACK for every sleep


  • Keep them SMOKE FREE day and night


Breastfeeding gives babies some protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Even if you can only breastfeed for a few days, this is still beneficial and offers some protection. The Department of Health and Social Care recommends breastfeeding for as long as possible, ideally exclusively for the first 6 months.

After 6 months, breastfeeding is encouraged with the addition of suitable weaning foods for as long as the mother and baby want to continue breastfeeding.

For further information about introducing solid foods see NHS Start 4 Life and First Steps Nutrition Trust.

Basic equipment needed – keep it simple – keep it safe

The choice of sleeping products on the market can feel overwhelming – it’s best to keep it simple.

You may also need a suitable car seat.

The essential equipment you need to keep your baby safe:

  • A cot and Moses basket with a firm flat mattress, that is protected by a waterproof cover to keep it clean and dry, with a sheet and blankets.

  • A room thermometer is also suggested to monitor the room temperature. 

  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is a separate sleeping environment such as a cot.

  • Keep the cot clear of soft toys, a clear cot is a safe cot.

Choosing baby products

When choosing products for your baby, check the following:

  • Does it comply with British Standards? If so, it should say on the product itself, its packaging, instructions or website.

  • If the item is something for your baby to sleep on, such as a mattress, is it firm? (baby’s head should not sink in by more than a few millimetres)

  • Is it entirely flat with no raised or cushioned areas?

  • Does it have a waterproof cover?

British Standard does not mean that a product helps to reduce the chance of SIDS, it just guarantees a certain level of general safety (e.g. will not fall apart or set fire easily).

You should also carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any product you buy and contact the manufacturer directly with any questions.

Advertising can be very misleading and not all products on the market are safe for babies.

Research by the Lullaby Trust shows that 41% of parents have or intend to buy baby sleep nests and pods which don’t comply with safer sleep guidelines.

Watch a video about how to how to choose safe sleeping products on the Lullaby Trust website.

Sleeping position

Car seats

Do not let your baby routinely sleep in a car seat when at home. When you arrive back from a journey, remove your baby from their car seat and place them in their cot or Moses basket.

On long car journeys, stop for breaks so your baby is not in the car seat for prolonged periods (some manufacturers recommend a maximum period of 2 hours in car seats) and make sure your baby is dressed in clothing suitable for the in-car temperature.

View the Lullaby Trust’s factsheet about car seats for more detailed information.

Visit the Lullaby Trust website for important information about slings and swaddling.



If you are thinking of co-sleeping, watch this video from the Lullaby Trust for vital safety information.

Parents may choose to co-sleep with their babies, especially if breastfeeding.

This means that their baby shares the same adult bed for most of the night, and not just to be comforted or fed.

If you do decide to co-sleep, it is important that you do this safely and are aware of the circumstances when you should not co-sleep.

Bed sharing increases the risk of SIDS and is particularly dangerous if:

  • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)

  • Either you or your partner has drunk any alcohol or taken drugs (including medicines 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 5 pounds or less)

Mother in bed with child

You should never sleep together with your baby if any of the above points apply to you.

You must be especially careful when giving feeds that you are not in a position where you could both fall asleep in the bed together.

The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you day and night.

Visit the Lullaby Trust website for more information on co-sleeping.

Health visitors are there to support and help you to make safe, informed choices that suit your family. Please feel able to discuss your safe sleeping concerns openly with your health visitor.

Useful websites


Understanding your baby

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