Safe Sleeping for babies

Infographic of safe sleeping tipsIt is natural for us to worry about our children whilst they are sleeping and as parents we want to do everything we can to make sure we put them to sleep safely and reduce the risk of Cot Death (SIDS). Here’s our health visitor approved guide to the things you need to know about safe sleeping.

Stop smoking

Scientific evidence shows that around 30% of sudden infant deaths could be avoided if mothers didn’t smoke when they were pregnant, indeed many experts feel that smoking could be linked to 60% of sudden infant deaths as being in a smokey atmosphere has been shown to increase the risk of cot death.

Avoid co-sleeping

A lot of parents choose to co-sleep because it can make night-time feeds easier, it is bonding and they want to have their baby close by; however a recent study has found that the risk of sudden infant death was significantly reduced in the first 6 months when the baby is put to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room but not the same bed, as the parents. Although not recommended, many parents do choose to co-sleep, you can watch videos from parents and find out more information about how to do it more safely here.

The official NICE Guidelines on co-sleeping

These guidelines cover the baby’s first year of life and cover co-sleeping on a bed or in unintentional situations like in a chair. They are in place to help inform parents against the risk of SIDS (cot death). It is important for you to know that there are some circumstances in which sharing a bed with a baby can be very dangerous.
* The risk of cot death is likely to be greater when you, or your partner, smoke
* The risk of cot death is higher when the care giver has recently consumed alcohol consumption or taken drugs
* The risk of cot death is higher in low birth weight or premature infants

Buy approved equipment

Although it might not feel like it sometimes, babies sleep a lot in those early months and will fall asleep in all sorts of places. It is important that any equipment we buy such as buggies and car seats are safe. Make sure anything you buy has a British Safety Standard, particularly when buying a product over the internet. A Safety Standard does not mean that a product helps to reduce the chance of SIDS, but just guarantees a certain level of general safety (e.g. will not fall apart or set fire easily). You should also carefully follow the manufacturers’ instructions for any product you buy and contact the manufacturer directly with any questions. Up-cycling, reusing and buying secondhand is great but do check that these items have a British Safety Standard too.

Unsafe sleeping practises

*It is not recommended you use nests, pillows, anti-roll pillows or cot bumpers with a baby under the age of one.
*Always lay your baby on their back to sleep.
*You should never use a second hand mattress always buy new.
*Always dress your baby in the appropriate number of laters for the temperature  – watch this video for more information about dressing your baby for hot weather here.
*Never put your baby to sleep wearing a hat.

Find out more about safe sleeping on the Lullaby Trust Website.

Carseat safety

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).

Slings and baby-wearing safety

Use the acronym T.I.C.K.S to ensure a baby’s airway does not become blocked whist in a sling or wrap. Some slings have been recalled as they were found to be unsafe so do check yours isn’t amongst those. Note that newborn babies are particularly at risk from being in slings.

T.I.C.K.S stands for
*Tight,
*In view at all times,
*Close enough to kiss,
*Keep the chin off chest and
*Supported back.
Take a look here for more information.

Find out more about baby wearing and watch videos from slings and baby wearing parents here.

Health Visitor approved advice

This guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in September 2018.

Other factsheets in this series

Your baby’s average sleep needs

Sleep and awake states of your baby

What are your baby’s signs of tiredness?

Your baby’s sleep cycles

The effect food can have on your baby’s sleep

Comforting and soothing your baby to sleep

Sleep aids that might help settle your baby

Swaddling your baby

Bedtime routines

Using the ‘Gradual Retreat’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Controlled Checking’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Kissing Game’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Pick Up, Put Down’ sleep training method

Using the ‘Wake to Sleep’ sleep training method

You might be interested in

The Channel Mum sleep guide

How to sooth a crying baby

Controlled crying

Co-sleeping