It's lovely to have your baby with you for a cuddle or a feed, but it's safest to put them back in their cot before you go to sleep.
The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a cot, lying on their back, in the same room as you.
What does my baby need to sleep safely?
There's no need to buy lots of expensive products, your baby just needs a few essentials.
Cot or Moses basket
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot or Moses basket.
Make sure there are no toys or anything else that could cover their mouth or nose, or make them too hot.
For this reason we advise against using cot bumpers, pillows and loose bedding.
The mattress should be firm, flat and waterproof.
If you can, try to buy a new mattress rather than second hand. You can re-use a mattress from your own home as long as it has been stored somewhere clean, dry and smoke-free.
Check the mattress is firm enough by making sure your baby's head does not sink into the mattress by more than a few millimetres.
If the mattress is not firm enough, it can make it difficult for them to lose heat and they can become too hot.
Sleeping pods or nests are not advised as they have raised or cushioned areas.
Babies should not have anything soft around them, especially near their heads, as this can cause them to overheat and increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), sometimes known as "cot death".
Baby sleeping bags can help to reduce the risk of SIDS, as they prevent babies from wriggling underneath their bedding.
Just make sure it fits well around the shoulders so there's no risk of your baby's head slipping down into the bag.
Sleeping bags are usually given a tog rating according to the warmth they provide – make sure your baby is in the right bag for the time of year.
Depending on the room temperature and the tog, you can adjust your baby's clothing as necessary. There should be no other bedding.
Commercial sleeping bags have the following tog ratings:
- 2.5 tog: for use all year and for standard room temperatures of 16 to 20C (61 to 69F)
- 1.0 tog: for use in warmer weather and in warmer rooms of 20 to 24C (69-to 73F)
- 0.5 tog: for use in hot weather and warm room temperatures of 24 to 27C (73 to 80F)
If you use baby blankets instead of a sleeping bag, lie your baby on their back with their feet nearest the foot of the cot or Moses basket. This prevents any loose bedding covering their face when they wriggle around.
A cellular cotton blanket is best as they allow your baby to keep warm but allows air flow.
The blanket should be tucked in firmly, no higher than the shoulders, and not doubled over as this can cause overheating.
Co-sleeping with your baby
It's always safer to let your baby sleep in their own cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.
However there may be times when you do share the bed with your baby, so it's important to know how to do it safely and when to avoid co-sleeping with your baby.
When is co-sleeping not safe?
You should never co-sleep with your baby if you are extremely tired, or your baby has a fever or any signs of illness.
It is not recommended to co-sleep with your baby if they were born premature (before 37 weeks) or had a low birthweight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb).
Falling asleep on a sofa or chair with your baby can increase the risk of SIDS substantially.
Co-sleeping is not safe if you (or your partner) have been:
- drinking alcohol
- taking recreational drugs
- taking any medication that causes drowsiness
Tips on co-sleeping more safely
If you do share the bed with your baby, it's recommended to:
- make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed, or become trapped between the mattress and wall
- keep pillows, sheets and blankets away from your baby (baby sleeping bags are safer)
- not let other children or pets in the bed at the same time
- always put your baby to sleep on their back