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How to make sleep as safe as possible for your baby

We wanted to give you the latest, safest information around how to make sleep as safe as possible and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

What is SIDS?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant where no cause is found after detailed post-mortem. There are several steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.

What sleeping materials should my baby have?

With so many products on the market, it can be easy to get confused about what babies should sleep in or on. A cot or a Moses Basket is a safe sleep space option. Sleeping pods, nests and hammocks are not recommended and can cause babies to overheat, increasing the risk of SIDS. Your baby should sleep in their own cot in the same room as their parents for the first 6 months. Find out more with the Product Guide developed by The Lullaby Trust.

Inside your cot or crib, you should have a mattress that is firm and flat with a waterproof cover. Firmly tucked in sheets and blankets (not above shoulder height) or a baby sleep bag are safe for a baby to sleep in. Having pillows, quilts, bumper pads or toys in the crib significantly increases the risk of SIDS. A clear cot is the safest cot.

The best position for your baby to sleep in

For the safest sleep possible, you should always place your baby to sleep on their back. Sleeping a baby on their front or side greatly increases the chance of SIDS. Once your baby can move themselves from their back to their front and back again by themselves, they will be able to find their own sleeping position. The first few times they roll onto their tummy, you might like to gently turn them back, but do not feel you have to get up all night to check. Give them some time to play on their tummy while they are awake to help their development, but make sure you supervise them while they are on their front.

Making bed-sharing safer

Placing your baby to sleep in their own cot or Moses basket ensures it is easy to create a clear sleep space. However, we know some parents may choose to bed-share which means that their baby shares the same bed with them for most of the night, and not just to be comforted or fed.

To make bed-sharing as safe as possible, make sure your baby is placed on a clear, flat surface (not being propped up or covered by any pillows, quilts or blankets). You should position yourself in between your baby and anyone else who is sleeping in the bed and ensure they will not become trapped between the wall and mattress. Pillows, bulky bedding or objects that could cover your baby’s face or cause them to overheat should be removed. There should be no pets or other children in the bed with you while you are bed-sharing.

It is dangerous to share a bed with your baby if:

  • You or your partner are a smoker
  • You or your partner have drunk alcohol recently
  • You have taken medication that makes you drowsy
  • Your baby was born prematurely or weighed under 5 ½ lbs when they were born 
  • You are extremely tired

You should never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby.

Preventing overheating in prams and buggies

Prams and buggies should not be covered with blankets, cloths or any cover that prevents the air circulating. Covering a pram or buggy with a blanket could lead to overheating, which increases the risk of SIDS. Alternatively, you can attach a clip-on sunshade or parasol to a pram or buggy. Make sure to keep your baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible and check if they’re getting too hot by feeling their chest or the back of their neck.

Helpful resources on safer sleep

Want to learn more about safe sleep? Here are some helpful resources for you to check out:

 

Talk to our team

If you have any questions about safe sleep or need support, don’t hesitate to contact the Improving Me team by calling 0151 295 3499 or emailing us at info@improvingme.org.uk.Make sure to follow Improving Me on Twitter and Facebook.