A guide to safe sleeping with your baby

We know all too well that when it comes to sleep – there are lots of factors to consider and for new parents, second time parents and Grandparents alike, it can be overwhelming to learn and remember all the ‘rules’ around safe sleeping, which is why we’re sharing with you The Lullaby Trust’s ‘Safer Sleep Basics’ as the ultimate go-to guide. 

What is SIDS? 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby. It is a terrifying and heartbreaking experience for parents. While the exact causes of SIDS are still unknown, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. This blog post will discuss safe sleep practices based on information from the Lullaby Trust, https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/safer-sleep-basics/  a UK organisation dedicated to reducing infant deaths. 

The Lullaby Trusts Safer Sleep Basics 

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep. This is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS. 
  • Use a firm sleep surface. A crib mattress is the best option. Avoid using soft surfaces, such as sofas, waterbeds, or sheepskins. 
  • Keep the sleep space clear of blankets and other items. Babies can suffocate on loose bedding. 
  • Keep the room temperature cool. Dress your baby in lightweight clothing and use a light blanket. 
  • Breastfeed your baby if you can. Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS according to the Lullaby Trust https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/safer-sleep-basics/breastfeeding/  
  • Don't smoke around your baby. Secondhand smoke is a major risk factor for SIDS. practices, you can help create a safe and healthy sleep environment for your baby. 


Why is it better for babies to sleep on their back rather than their stomach? 

The Lullaby Trust informs that there is substantial evidence from around the world to show that sleeping your baby on their back at the beginning of every sleep or nap (day and night) significantly reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).Sleeping your baby on their back (known as the supine position) for every sleep, is one of the most protective actions you can take to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible and keeps the windpipe and food pipe open. 


Is it safe to swaddle my baby? 

There are some important guidelines to follow if you would like to swaddle your baby or use a sling. The Lullaby Trust advise using materials such as a thin muslin or thin cot sheet, and never place any additional bedding over a swaddled baby as they could cause them to overheat.  

To reduce the risk of your baby’s face getting covered by loose material, they should be swaddled securely so the swaddle can’t come apart or undone. This is because loose, soft bedding can accidentally get pulled over a baby’s head, causing overheating or a breathing obstruction, increasing the chance of SIDS.   

The Lullaby Trust recommends babies stop being wrapped or swaddled when they show signs of wanting to roll to avoid their arms being trapped should they want to roll back independently. 

Can I use a blanket in the cot? 

The recommendation for safety is that nothing should be added to the sleeping space of a child that could go over their head or face and interfere with their breathing or that could cause them to overheat.  

If you choose to use blankets in the sleep space it is important that they are tucked in firmly on three sides and that the blanket reaches no higher than mid-chest on the child, who is slept on their back with their feet at the bottom of the cot. This way, if they wriggle around, they move up and away from their blankets not down and under them. They also can’t grab the blanket and put it over their head. 

Is it safe for my baby to sleep on their stomach once they start rolling over? 

Some babies may put themselves onto their tummies during their sleep. If you know your child can roll independently (from front to back and to front again) then they should be safe. You can of course return them to their back if you check on them and find they are on their front. The Lullaby Trust recommend that you place your baby on their back for all sleeps when putting them into their safe sleep space. 


Are bassinets safe for sleeping? 

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, flat, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket. The Lullaby Trust states these key things to check to avoid risk of overheating and suffocation. 

Does the item comply with British Standards? If so, it should say on the product itself, its packaging, instructions, or website. 

If the item is something for your baby to sleep on such as a mattress, is it: 
🟡 Firm? (baby’s head should not sink in by more than a few millimetres) 
🟡 Entirely flat with no raised or cushioned areas? 
🟡 Does it have a waterproof cover?   


If the temperature varies throughout the night, do we dress them for warmth for the coldest part of the night, or is overheating worse than baby getting cold? 

Overheating is a known risk factor for SIDS, but we also don't want our babies to get too cold. The best way to check on your baby’s temperature is by putting your hand on the skin on their chest or the back of their neck. The Lullaby Trust advises not to use their hands or feet as a guide as they will always feel cooler than the rest of their body. 

When it comes to using sleeping bags/suits The Lullaby Trust recommend using a bag that's warmth suits the temperature. A light one during warmer weather and a thicker one when it's colder. Another alternative is to continue to use a light one and add extra layers of clothing under the sleeping bag, maybe a long-sleeved singlet, onesie. babies are already too hot and will need cooling by removing layers. 


  • SIDS is a terrifying and heartbreaking experience, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. 
  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep. 
  • Use a firm sleep surface and keep the sleep space clear of blankets and other items. 
  • Monitor the room temperature to ensure the room is not too hot and not too cold 
  • Don't smoke around your baby.  

For more information How to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby - The Lullaby Trust 

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