Why safe sleep is so important

Sudden infant death, or cot death as it was previously known, refers to the unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant which commonly occurs whilst babies sleep. It can happen at any time of day irrespective of where babies sleep. 

Although sudden infant death is rare there are still over 200 babies who die every year, therefore it’s important parents are aware of their baby’s sleep environment in order to be able to reduce the risk.

Keep your baby safe while they sleep, in the day and at night, by following the below advice:

  • Avoid smoking during your pregnancy 
  • Keep a smoke free environment around your baby
  • Try to breastfeed if you can as it has been proven to be protective against sudden infant death
  • Ensure your baby spends the first six months of their life sleeping in the same room as you, this includes their day time naps and night time sleep
  • Place your baby on their back in a feet to foot sleeping position on a firm and flat mattress for every sleep they have 
  • Don’t let your baby sleep in a baby bouncer or baby swing
  • Don’t use sleep pods, baby nests, hammocks, bean bags or cot & crib bumpers
  • Don’t use pillows or quilts until after the age of 1 year 
  • Don’t put soft cuddly toys in their moses basket, crib or cot
  • Don’t put folded blankets or quilts under your baby’s moses basket, crib or cot mattresses
  • Don’t place your baby’s moses basket, crib or cot in direct sunlight or near to a radiator
  • Ensure your baby doesn’t sleep with their head covered or sleep with a hat on
  • Check your baby doesn’t become overheated
  • If using baby sleeping bags make sure they’re the correct tog rating for the season and are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight
  • Maintain the room temperature where your baby sleeps to 16-20 degrees celsius
  • Don’t cover your baby’s pram or pushchair with blankets or covers as this prevents the air from circulating and can lead to your baby overheating
  • Be aware of the length of time your baby spends in their car seat. If you have to go on a long journey make sure you take regular breaks and remove your baby from their car seat during your break on travelling. Babies should be removed from their car seats when they are not travelling
  • Never sleep with your baby on a settee or armchair as this can increase the risk by 50 times
  • Never sleep with your baby if you smoke, have been drinking alcohol, taking medication or drugs or if you are feeling unusually tired

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a moses basket, crib or cot in the same room as you for the first 6 months of their life. 

However, there are some parents who choose to sleep with their baby in their beds, this is called co-sleeping. If you do choose to co-sleep with your baby it’s important to do this safely: 

  • Ensure your mattress is firm and flat
  • Keep pillows, sheets and blankets away from your baby to prevent them getting too hot
  • Continue to follow the safe sleep advice
  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed, get trapped between the mattress and the wall or be rolled onto by yourselves

You must not co-sleep with your baby if either you or your partner:

  • Smoke (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • Have been drinking alcohol 
  • Have taken drugs, this includes medications that can make you drowsy
  • Are excessively tired

You must not co-sleep if:

  • Your baby was born early (37 weeks or less)
  • Their birth weight was low (2.5kg or 5 1/2 lbs or less)

If you think that your baby is unwell it is important that you seek medical advice from your doctor.