Safe sleeping for babies

As a parent, it’s important to provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby, especially during their first year of life. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or “cot death” is one of the scariest risks you face as a parent but by following these safe sleeping guidelines, you can reduce the risk of SIDS and make sure your baby is getting a safe and restful sleep.

Back to Sleep

Always place your baby on their back to sleep, for both naps and at bed time. If your baby is able to roll over on their own, while it’s still essential to place them on their back to begin sleep, you don’t need to return a sleeping baby to their back if they roll over.

Feet to foot

Place your baby’s feet at the foot of their crib, cot or moses basket.

Use a Firm Sleep Surface

Place your baby to sleep on a firm and flat surface like a crib, cot or moses basket. Avoid using soft surfaces such as couches, armchairs, or even adult beds, as they can increase the risk of suffocation. Make sure there are no objects close to your baby that could cause suffocation 


The NHS recommends that your baby sleeps in the same room as you, but not in the same bed, for at least the first 6 months of their life. This helps you to respond to your baby’s needs quickly if there is any sign of distress.

Remove loose items from their crib or cot

Avoid loose blankets, clothing, or anything that could potentially cover your baby’s face and lead to suffocation or overheating. 

Don’t Smoke

Do not smoke around your baby after they’re born, and do not let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby. Babies exposed to cigarette smoke before or after birth are at an increased risk of SIDS. Do not let anyone smoke in your house, including visitors.

Breastfeed If Possible

Breastfeeding has been associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. Feeding your baby with your breastmilk boosts their immune system and they are less likely to develop respiratory infections, which have been linked with an increase in SIDS.

Avoid bed-sharing

Bed-sharing is strongly discouraged when it comes to infant sleep. Bed-sharing can increase the risk for suffocation, particularly if you’re very tired as new parents often are. 

While discouraged, we understand some parents still choose to co-sleep, so here’s some guidance from the NHS on safe co-sleeping:

  • make sure your baby is sleeping on a firm, flat mattress lying on their back
  • do not have any pillows or duvets near them
  • do not have other children or pets in the bed at the same time

It’s important not to share a bed with your baby if your little one had a low birthweight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb) or if you or your partner:

  • smoke (no matter where or when you smoke and even if you never smoke in bed)
  • have had 2 or more units of alcohol
  • have taken recreational drugs
  • have taken medicine that causes drowsiness

If you’re concerned about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), speak to your midwife of health visitor, or read the NHS guidance on reducing the risk of SIDS

If you want to learn more about safe sleeping, the Lullaby Trust has lots of information and support