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Safer Sleep Advice- A guide for Parents and Carers

What is SIDS?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby for no obvious reason. We don’t yet know how to completely prevent SIDS. But, it is possible to lower the chances of it happening by following the advice below.


The Importance of Routine in Reducing the Risk of SIDS

It is important to keep the same sleeping routine for your baby. Keep putting them to sleep on their back for every day and night-time sleep. Babies who are usually sleep on their back but sometimes sleep on their front are at a greater risk of SIDS.

Always sleep your baby on their back in a clear cot or sleep space.


If you have a Cot or Moses Basket

Having a cot, crib, travel cot or Moses basket is the most ideal sleeping space for your baby. Babies only need a few basic items for sleep, these are:

  • A firm, flat service
  • Some well-fitted bedding

It is best to avoid:

  • Pillows or duvets
  • Cot bumpers
  • Soft toys
  • Loose bedding- babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered with loose bedding.
  • Pods or nests
  • Sleep positioning products (such as wedges or straps) that will keep your baby in one sleeping position

Travel cot mattresses are a lot thinner than a normal cot mattress. But, they are fine for a baby to sleep on. Avoid placing folded blankets or a quilt under the baby to make them ‘more comfortable’.

Place your baby on their back in the ‘feet to foot’ position. Place your baby’s feet to the bottom end of the cot or Moses basket to avoid them wriggling down under the covers. Use a thin blanket no higher than their shoulders, and firmly tucked in under the mattress.

If you do not have a cot or Moses basket, you should try and find another type of firm, flat, safe sleep surface for your baby.



Bedsharing means that baby shares the same bed with an adult for most of the night, and not only to be comforted or fed.

For safer bedsharing:

  • Keep pillows, sheets, blankets away from your baby.
  • Remove any other items that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat.
  • Sleep baby on their back.
  • If possible, avoid letting other children into the bed. It is not recommended that an older child shares a bed with you and a baby. If you choose to do this, or there is no other option, then you or your partner should sleep between the child and the baby
  • Make sure your baby won’t fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall.

When NOT to bedshare:

  • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • Either you or your partner has drunk any alcohol or taken drugs. This includes medications that can make your drowsy.
  • Your baby was born premature (before 37 weeks)
  • Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less)
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby

If you:

  • don’t have a cot or Moses basket
  • would prefer not to/can’t bedshare with your baby

Then use a safe, firm, flat space for your baby.


If you have a pram/carrycot or a buggy

  • Ensure the base of the buggy or pram is flat and not sloping
  • Keep the hood down when indoors
  • Don’t cover the pram/buggy. For example, don’t put material or a blanket over the top of the pram to keep out light
  • The padded sides of a pram/carrycot may trap more heat. Keep checking the baby’s temperature by feeling the back of their neck or chest. If their skin feels sweaty they are too hot so remove a layer of bedding or what they are wearing


Baby Boxes

Baby boxes are cardboard boxes designed for babies to sleep in.

If your baby uses a baby box, here’s some advice on how to use it safely:

  • Do not lift or carry the box if your baby is in it
  • Do not put the lid on the box if your baby is in it
  • Always keep the box clear as a sleeping space
  • Do not place extra bedding on top of or underneath the mattress to raise your baby up to a higher level
  • Ensure the box is on a solid surface and cannot fall over. The best place is on the floor if it is clean and dry
  • Do not use the box if it gets wet or soiled
  • Ensure that any pets stay away from the box


Car Seats

If you have a car seat, do not let your baby stay in it for long. This is particularly important for premature or young babies. Car seats are designed to keep babies safe while travelling, not as a main sleeping place. Your baby should be taken out as soon as you get to your destination, and placed onto a firm, flat surface to sleep.



  • Make sure that your baby is a comfortable temperature – not too hot or too cold.
  • Babies don’t need hats indoors.
  • Keep your baby’s head uncovered while they are sleeping. This is so they can lose heat from their heads when necessary.
  • Babies who are unwell need fewer, not more layers.
  • Feel your baby’s chest or the back of their neck (your baby’s hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal).
  • If your baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of clothing or bedding.
  • 16-20°C is a comfortable and safe room temperature for sleeping babies. Use light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag.


Baby Banks

If you need baby items, you can get help from a baby bank. A baby bank is like a food bank but for baby essentials and are for families who need help. They provide pre-owned items for newborns to 5-year-olds donated from the local community. These products include sleeping products such as cots, travel cots and Moses baskets.

If you are in contact with any professionals ask them to refer you to a baby bank. You can also contact your local baby bank directly and you may be able to self-refer.

Speak to your accommodation provider or support worker if you have any questions. Your midwife or health visitor can give you specialist advice.

Health visitors are specialist midwives or nurses who have extra training. They work with all families with children aged 0-5 and offer more support to those who need it the most.

Still need help?

Send an enquiry to our friendly Healthy Sandwell team.

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