Safe sleep

4min read

It is not clear why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from what is known as ‘cot death’ or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Research has shown that positioning a baby to sleep on their back reduces the risk and that factors such as exposure to cigarette smoke may increase the risk.

Safe sleeping for your baby

Cot death is rare but you can follow these simple guidelines which are based on research into reducing the risk of cot death or SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome):

  • Baby sleeping bags have been shown to reduce cot death as they keep the baby the right temperature and prevent their head from becoming covered.
  • Ensure your baby’s room is not too hot or too cold 16°C to 20°C is the recommended temperature.
  • Position your baby on their back to sleep 
  • Don’t smoke in the same room as your baby
  • Don’t use a pillow or quilt until your baby is over 12 months old
  • Don’t cover your baby’s head indoors
  • Let your baby sleep in the same room as you for the first six months
  • If your baby shows any signs of being unwell, seek medical advice immediately
  • Be careful about having your baby in bed with you and make sure their head doesn’t get covered by the pillow or duvet
  • Try not to fall asleep with your baby in an armchair or sofa. There is a danger that you might roll on top of her or she could get trapped between your baby and the sofa’s cushions or side.
  • Be particular vigilant about falling asleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs, medication or alcohol.

Other organisations that may be useful:

NHS website have lots of supportive advice 

The Lullaby Trust can provide families with support 

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us via our live chat service, email us at or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.