New parents soon understand the value of a good night's rest! This is much easier to achieve when you've established a routine you can all live with, and you have the peace of mind that your baby is sleeping safely and soundly.
Choosing a cot
At around three months most babies will start to outgrow their Moses baskets and be ready to move into a cot. When choosing one, make sure it meets current safety guidelines (BS 1753) and if you're inheriting one, always buy a new mattress for hygiene reasons and check the gaps between the bars are less than 6.5cm.
Choose a mattress that's firm, flat, well fitting, clean and waterproof on the outside (or has a removable waterproof cover). It should be 10cm thick to support your baby. Check that the mattress is a snug fit in the cot with no gaps between it and the frame so your baby can't trap her head and suffocate – the gap between the mattress and cot should be no more than 3cm. To make sure your mattress meets current safety guidelines, it should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997.
Best sleeping position for a baby
The safest way for a baby to sleep is on her back with her feet at the foot of the cot (the "feet to foot" position). Tuck in sheets and blankets tightly, making sure they come no higher than her shoulders. Alternatively, use a specially designed baby sleeping bag. These are hoodless and come in tog ratings for summer and winter, make you're using the right tog as your baby can't regulate her body temperature, so check she isn't overheating by feeling her head, neck or back (not hands and feet).
Safe sleeping checklist
- Always put your baby to sleep on her back in the feet-to-foot position
- Don't use pillows or duvets if your baby is less that a year old
- A firm mattress is always best – invest in a good one to support your baby's head and body.
- Don't smoke in the house or around your baby – babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth are at increased risk of cot death.
- Keep the room at around 18ºC (65ºF) and don't put the cot near any heat source. Being too hot is worse than being cold for a baby.
- Don't use electric blankets or hot water bottles.
- Make sure any blinds have a safety catch on cords or bead chains, and keep cots and other bedroom furniture well away from the cord or bead chain.
For more information and advice on safer sleep for babies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), visit the Lullaby Trust.
The safest way for a baby to sleep is on her back with her feet at the foot of the cot.