Advice on safe sleeping at home


Safe sleeping position

The safest position is to place your baby on their back at the start of sleep time. It is not safe for babies to sleep on their fronts. Babies tend to settle more easily on their backs if they have been placed to sleep that way from the very first day. If your baby is less than six months old and you find they have rolled over onto their stomach then gently reposition your baby onto their back. However do not feel that you need to keep getting up in the night to check on your baby for this reason.

At some stage your baby will learn to roll onto their front and back again and will find their own comfortable position. This is fine once they have reached six months. However always place your baby on their back to sleep regardless of their age.

You may have noticed your baby, especially if they were premature, being placed on their tummy while in the Neonatal Unit for medical reasons to help with their breathing. If this was the case you still need to position your baby on their back to sleep once you are at home unless your doctor advises a different sleep position.

If your baby has been used to being positioned on their front while in the Neonatal Unit it may take some time for them to settle. However, you should still persist with positioning your baby on their back and they will eventually get used to sleeping in this position.

We also advise you to position your baby so their feet are at the foot of the cot, with the bed clothes firmly tucked in and pulled up no higher than your baby's shoulders. This reduces the risk of your baby moving down the cot under the covers.

The reason it is so important to position your baby on their back at the foot of the bed during sleep is to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death syndrome. Fortunately, cot death is relatively rare now and often preventable.

Firm Mattress

The Foundation of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also advice that it is best to use a mattress that is firm, in good condition, clean, dry and well aired. Your baby should not use a pillow or have cot bumpers until they are at least a year old, because they might increase the risk of overheating.


Bed sharing

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot.

It is dangerous for your baby to sleep in bed with you or your partner, and it is especially dangerous for your baby to sleep in your bed if you are smokers, have been drinking alcohol, taking prescribed medication or using drugs that make you drowsy or if you have had little sleep and you are very tired.

Your baby is particularly vulnerable if they were born premature before 37 weeks, was low birth weight and is under three months old.

If you do decide to have your baby in bed with you to comfort or feed them, please put your baby back in the cot before you fall to sleep.

The risks of sleeping with your baby in your bed include:

  • Accidentally rolling over in your sleep and suffocating your baby
  • Accidentally trapping your baby between the wall and the bed
  • Your baby could accidentally roll out of bed and be injured


It is also very dangerous to fall asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair or to let your baby sleep alone in an adult bed.

The nursing staff will go through safe sleep positioning with you as your baby moves closer to being discharged.


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