Staying Safe In The Home

Safer Sleep For Babies

Sleep is really important for your baby’s growth and development. It takes a while to understand a new baby's sleep pattern and this is different for all babies. Establishing sleep patterns in the first few months will help your baby settle and self-soothe.

Getting into sleep routines can be difficult when you have a new baby or are tired yourself. Sometimes the easiest options about where and how your baby falls asleep can put them at risk.

By remembering some simple guidelines, there are things you can do to keep your baby safe while they are sleeping. This will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death.

  • Put babies on their back to sleep
  • Make sure babies have a clear, flat space to sleep in
  • Keep them smoke-free day and night.
Dive Deeper

Safer Sleep Videos

Safer sleep guidelines are really important to help keep your baby safe. If you’re away from home or out of routine, make sure you plan ahead for your babies’ sleeping arrangements. Don’t take risks, and never share a bed with your baby if you’ve had any alcohol, drugs or medication.

Safer Sleep Awareness - Tiredness

Safer Sleep Awareness - Alcohol

Safer Sleep Awareness - Change Of Routine

Safer Sleep Awareness - Safe Co-Sleeping


Ideally babies should always sleep in their own cot, crib or pram. Some families will choose to co-sleep with their babies. Co-sleeping is sharing a bed with a baby as they sleep.

If you choose to co-sleep, you can make it safer by;

  • Not sleeping on a sofa or armchair with your baby
  • Making sure your baby is sleeping in a clear space beside you
  • Using a baby sleeping bag instead of loose bedding, like pillows, sheets or blankets
  • Not letting pets or other children sleep in the bed
  • Making sure your baby won't fall out or get trapped between the mattress and a wall.

You should never co-sleep if;

  • You or your partner smokes
  • You or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs
  • You or your partner has taken prescribed medication that might make you feel drowsy
  • You are extremely tired
  • Your baby was premature (born at 37 weeks or earlier) or your baby had a low birth weight (5 1/2 pounds or less).


Sleeping Position

All babies should sleep on their back.

  • Unless your baby is being cared for on a neonatal unit with special monitoring your baby should sleep on their back.
  • Babies should not sleep on their side or tummy.
  • If your baby falls asleep in a different position you should move them on to their back immediately – even if it wakes them up.

Friends and family may tell you they put their baby to sleep in different position. We now know for sure this is not safe and you should not do it unless advised by a specialist doctor.

Sleep Space

  • Your baby should sleep in a cot / crib or pram designed for a baby.
  • It should have a firm, close fitting mattress.
  • Your baby’s feet should touch the ‘foot ’(bottom) of the cot. This will stop them wriggling under covers.
  • Bedding should only come up to their armpits.
  • Cots should not have pillows, bumpers, toys or loose bedding. 
  • It is safest for your baby to sleep in the same room as you for the first six months – both day and night. This should always be in a Moses basket / cot or pram.
  • The room temperature should be 16-20 degrees centigrade so your baby does not get too hot. 
  • Babies should not sleep for longer than 2 hours in a car seat. Make regular stops for your baby to have time out of their car seat.

Never let your baby fall asleep on their own, or with you on a sofa or chair. This increases the chance of SIDS.

This can happen accidentally when you are very tired. Try to plan ahead so that you have somewhere close by to put your baby down to sleep safely.

Monitor Wires

When your baby is small you may have baby monitors, grow eggs or other electronic devices to keep help keep them safe. As your baby gets more active; pulling to stand, reaching; becoming inquisitive and exploring the world, their needs change.

When they reach this stage, it is important to think about moving the cot away from electrical wires and leads to prevent accidents. Remember - what kept your tiny baby safe can be dangerous for toddlers.

Smoke Free

This means their parents and carers do not smoke and babies are not around others who are smoking or in rooms where people have smoked.

  • If you would like help to stop smoking you can get in touch with Smokefree Norfolk for support, or call Just One Norfolk to speak to a health professional.
  • Until you quit, always smoke outside at a distance from your baby. Wash your hands and change outer clothes before going back to your baby.
  • Make sure friends and family know your ‘smoke free’ rules. This is important for your baby’s health and safety.
  • If you and / or your partner smoke you should never share a bed with your baby. This is because SIDS is 10 times more likely with a smoking parent.

Experts say that if all expectant parents were able to stop smoking and continued not to smoke after the baby was born, the rate of SIDS could be halved.

When Baby Starts to Roll

When Baby Won't Sleep

Who Can Help?

If your child is 12 months or older, you can contact the National Sleep Helpline on 03303 530541 for support and advice. This is available Sunday - Thursday 7pm - 9pm. The helpline is run by a team of specialist trained sleep advisors. Although they cannot give medical advice, they can talk through your issues, offer you some practical strategies and recommend services that could help.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631 590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

Useful Documents

Sleep - A Guide For Parents

Click Here

Safer Sleep For Babies - A Guide For Parents

Click Here

Safer Sleep In Winter Resource

Click Here

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