Safe Sleep for your baby – peace of mind for you

The safest place for your baby to sleep in his first six months is in a cot or a Moses basket in the same room as you. If you’re busy preparing the room your baby is going to sleep in, or are buying a cot for him, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

What do I need to check if I’m using a new or second-hand cot?

Whether your baby’s cot is new or second-hand, check that it:

  • is deep enough to prevent your baby climbing out when he gets more mobile, with at least 50cm (20in) between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot sides
  • has bars that are between 25mm (1in) and 60mm (2.5in) apart, so your baby can’t get stuck between the bars of the cot
  • doesn’t have corner-post extensions that your baby’s clothing could get caught on, or decorative cut-outs in the headboard or footboard that could trap your baby’s limbs

All new cots sold in the UK should conform to British safety standard BSEN716. Check that yours has a label with this code on it.

Make sure that the mattress is firm, flat and fits snugly. If you’re using a second-hand mattress, check that it’s clean, dry and has no tears or cracks.

How can I keep my baby safe in his cot?

Put your baby to sleep on his back, with his feet at the foot of the crib, cot or pram (feet to foot). This helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Don’t use a pillow in the cot. Your baby needs a surface that is firm and flat. If your baby wriggles under his pillow, he could suffocate.

Cot bumpers are not recommended, as they can cause your baby to overheat or get tangled in the fastenings. Don’t give your baby any toys or comfort blankets in his cot if he’s under six months old.

If your baby is over six months and sleeping in a separate room from you, you could use a baby monitor to keep a check on him. Whenever your baby is in his cot, awake or asleep, keep the drop side of the cot fully up and locked.

If you give your baby a bottle at night, lift him out of his cot and put him on your lap to feed him. Babies can choke very easily, even on milk. Never leave your baby alone with a bottle of milk in his cot.

My baby’s starting to move about in his cot. How can I make it safe?

If your baby is starting to sit or stand up, make sure you adjust his mattress to a lower position, so that he can’t climb out of his cot.

It’s also a good idea to take a look around the room he sleeps in, to spot any dangers that he may now be able to reach.

  • Remove any mobiles or hanging toys that are within his reach if he sits or stands up.
  • Use only blinds that have been approved as child-safe in your baby’s room.
  • Tie up  or secure dangling cords from blinds and curtains and position your baby’s cot well away from them.
  • Don’t leave any kind of rope or cord lying around, including dressing gown cords.
  • Never use a tie or ribbon to attach your baby’s dummy to his clothes or leave your baby wearing clothes or bibs with tie fastenings.

What’s the safest temperature for my baby’s room?

Keep the room your baby sleeps in at a comfortable 16 degrees C to 20 degrees C. If your baby overheats, he may be more vulnerable to SIDS.

Follow these tips to keep your baby comfortable without overheating:

  • A thermometer, or a baby monitor that displays the temperature of the room, lets you check if it’s getting too hot.
  • Use a sheet and cellular blankets (one blanket folded in half is two layers), or a lightweight baby sleeping bag that’s the correct size for your baby and appropriate thickness for the season.
  • Don’t put a hot water bottle or electric blanket in with your baby, however cold the weather is.
  • Keep your baby’s cot away from direct sunlight, radiators and heaters.
  • If you think your baby is getting too hot, check his tummy. If it feels hot, or he’s sweaty, remove a layer and check him again after a few minutes. It’s normal for your baby’s hands and feet to feel cool, though.
  • In warm weather, keep your baby’s room cool by closing the curtains and opening the window during the day in his room. In really hot weather, you could give your baby a cool bath before putting him to bed in just a nappy with one sheet to cover him while sleeping.
  • A small electric fan may help to cool your baby’s room, but make sure it’s placed well away from your baby’s cot, so he can’t reach it.

How can I make my baby’s room safe?

You’ve probably done everything you can think of to make the room your baby sleeps in a safe haven, but there may still be a few things to watch out for:

  • Stay with your baby when he’s on the changing table or any raised surface, such as a bed or sofa. Better still, put your changing mat on the floor so there’s no danger of him falling.
  • Keep medicines and toiletries, such as baby lotion and wipes, out of his reach. Make sure all bottle tops and lids are firmly closed when not in use.
  • Secure wardrobes and bookshelves to walls to prevent them from falling down on your baby, if he climbs on them or pulls on them. For the same reason, always remember to close drawers.
  • Move low furniture away from windows and use security locks to keep your windows safe from opening wide. Restricting the opening to less than 6.5cm (2.5in) will prevent your baby from climbing out. Make sure you and any other adult looking after your baby know where the keys are, in case of fire.
  • If your baby is pulling himself up or starting to walk, make sure that his pyjamas aren’t too long or that his socks aren’t slippery.

How can I keep my baby safe for daytime sleeps?

It’s best to follow the same advice for daytime sleeps, as you do at night-time. Your baby should be put down to sleep, on his back on a safe flat surface near to you, such as a carry cot, Moses basket or travel cot. Make sure that his feet are placed at the foot of the crib or cot. There are also other things you can do to make sure he’s safe:

  • Never leave your baby asleep unattended in the car, especially in warm weather.
  • Never use your car seat as a place for your baby to nap. If he falls asleep while you’re in the car, take him out and put him in his cot or Moses basket as soon as you get home.

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