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Information about safer sleep from The Lullaby Trust

Information about safer sleep from The Lullaby Trust
13 March 2019

Current advice for new parents is:

  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or a cot in a room with you for the first six months of life.
  • The safest sleep position for babies is on their backs (supine). The Back to Sleep campaign in the 1990s is one of the main reasons why sudden infant death dropped by more than half between 1989 and 1992. Once babies can roll from front to back and back again by themselves they can be left to find their own position to sleep.
  • Babies should be placed on a flat firm mattress in the ‘feet to foot’ position in a cot kept clear of bumpers, toys and loose bedding
  • Breast feeding and keeping your baby smoke free have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. Ask your Midwife or Health Visitor for help with breastfeeding and stopping smoking


The Lullaby Trust identify key risk factors to parents and babies sharing a bed or other sleep surface:

If the parent (or partner or carer):

  • is a smoker, even if they never smoke in bed or at home
  • has been drinking alcohol
  • has taken medication or drugs that make them drowsy
  • feels very tired

 Or if the baby:

  • is low birth weight (less than 2.5kgs or 51/2 lb)
  • is premature (born before 37 weeks)

By the age of 3 months half of all babies born in England and Wales will have slept in an adult bed with one or both parents, whether intended or not.  

Parents and carers should be advised never to sleep with a baby on a sofa or in an armchair, and they should be reminded that accidents can happen: parents might roll over in their sleep and suffocate their baby, or the baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or could roll out of the bed and be injured.

The Serious Crime Act 2015 (child cruelty offence (Section 66)) extends provisions in the Children Act 1933 that deem the suffocation of a child under three years when in bed with a drunken person to constitute child neglect to now include:

  • those under the influence of prohibited drugs;
  • where the person comes under the influence of the substance in question at any time before the suffocation occurs; and
  • irrespective of where the adult and child were sleeping (for example, a sofa or chair)

It is important to emphasise to parents the need to re-assess infant sleep practices whenever anything changes, for example:

  • someone new (such as grandparent, babysitter) putting baby to bed;
  • sleeping in a different environment/away from home,
  • changing from breastfeeding to formula-feeding especially when sharing a sleep surface with their baby


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