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Help Your Baby Sleep Safely Posted or Updated on 29 Feb 2024

Your local NHS shares some advice on how to help your young baby to sleep safely.

Becoming a new parent can be daunting. There’s so much to learn in such a short amount of time. One of those new skills you have to pick up is how to create a safe sleeping space for your baby.

Young babies in particular are at risk of dying from a condition called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is when a baby dies with no obvious cause of death. The exact cause of the syndrome isn’t clearly understood but there are things that can greatly reduce the risk to babies.

Sleeping on their back: For their first six months you should make sure to always put them on their back before they go to sleep.

Cots or Moses baskets are best for sleeping. Items such as cushioned sleeping pods, nests, baby hammocks, or anything that wedges or straps a baby in place can pose a risk to babies under 12 months. It’s also best that young babies sleep alone. It can be dangerous to share a bed (also known as co-sleeping) with a baby; particularly if:

  • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom), has drunk alcohol, or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy);
  • You are extremely tired;
  • Your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less) or born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less);

Sharing a room with you is the safest place for babies under 6 months old, even during the day. When it is time for them to sleep, keep them with you in their own cot or Moses basket. You should never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby, this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times. If you think you might fall asleep, put your baby down in their cot.

Keeping their cot clutter free: Items like pillows, soft toys or bumpers can all increase the risk of SIDS or an accident. Keep their feet close to the foot of the cot and any bedding tucked in. Don’t let the bedding go above their armpits.

Maintaining a comfortable room temperature: A room temperature of 16 to 20°C with light bedding is comfortable and safe. Check to see how you baby is feeling by checking if their chest or back of their neck is hot or sweaty. If they feel warm, remove one or more layers of bedding or bedclothes.

In the winter, adding an extra layer can help keep your baby warm, do not cover your baby’s head when indoors as their head is important in maintaining their body temperature. If you keep your heating at night, keep it below 20°C.

In the summer or on holiday somewhere warm, you can open a door or window if it is safe to do so or use a fan (don’t point it directly at your baby). It is fine for your baby to sleep in just a nappy if they are warm. Remember to keep checking their chest or back of the neck to see if they are hot or sweaty.

This campaign has been put together by the five NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in mid and south Essex. A handy downloadable e-leaflet which summarises key areas of sleeping a baby safely has also been put together and can be downloaded from the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership website.

For more information on safe sleeping for babies, visit the Lullaby Trust’s website.

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