What is safe sleeping?

It’s important that your baby sleeps as safely as possible to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Your health visitor will discuss safe sleeping at your new birth visit, but here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your baby is sleeping safely at all times, not just at night.

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Don’t let your baby get too hot or cold while sleeping
  • Sheets and blankets (not above shoulder height) should be firmly tucked in. A baby sleeping bag is a good alternative
  • Avoid using soft or bulky bedding such as quilts, pillows and duvets
  • No hats or gloves when sleeping
  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight.

Lullaby trust leaflet on safe sleeping

Safer Sleep Advice for Babies: a Guide for Parents

The Lullaby Trust has safer sleep advice that gives simple steps for how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which is commonly known as cot death. It can give you the peace of mind to enjoy this special time.

Their advice is based on strong scientific evidence and can be followed for all sleep periods, not just at night.

If you have any questions about SIDS or safer sleep, please call their information line on 0808 802 6869 (lines open Monday-Friday 10am-2pm).

Sleep and what to expect

Normal sleep patterns for your baby or child


AgeDaytime sleeps hoursNight time sleep hours
1 week88.5
4 weeks6.758.75
3 months510
6 months410
9 months2.7511.25
1 year2.511.5
2 years1.2511.75
3 years111
4 years11.5
5 years11

When babies are born they are unable to tell the difference from day and night, but by 6-8 weeks they are starting to learn this. At around 3 months your baby will pick up on routines, so this is a great time to introduce a bedtime routine!

Initially your baby will wake when they are hungry and fall asleep during or soon after a feed. Your baby will also have growth spurts at 6-8 weeks and around 12 weeks; this will mean your baby will wake more often for feeds, to meet their growth needs. If you are breastfeeding, this frequent feeding is changing your milk to meet your baby’s next developmental need.

There are 5 main stages to sleep, from drowsiness to deep sleep. This full cycle in a new born baby is around 50-60 minutes; however from around 3 months old onwards this is around 90 minutes. Following successful weaning at 6 months onto solid foods, if you notice your child is waking every 90 minutes or so this may indicate an association with falling to sleep; this association is normally linked to what ever you do to get your child to sleep at bed time e.g. rocking to sleep. Sleep will be discussed with you at your child’s developmental review however if you need support earlier, call your health visiting team or attend one of our clinics; you will then be given advice and support. If this is not successful you may then be offered a referral to the health visitor led sleep clinic, which is held once a month.



Bedtime routines

The aim of a bedtime routine is to prepare your baby or child for sleeping.

This routine can be used from 3 months onwards. You can tailor it your family routines, however remember to keep it calm and relaxing.

If you live on a busy road, don’t worry, your baby or child is use to the noise

Bedroom temperature to be around 18⁰C

Have everything prepared for their bedtime e.g. bring milk to their room

Aim to keep the bedtime routine to around 30 minutes and should be a simple routine


Quiet play prior to starting the routine

  • Bath for no more than 10 minutes
  • If your baby or child has teeth, lift the lip and clean them
  • Take your baby / child to the room they will sleep in, dim light room (try and not to leave this room with your baby / child as this can stimulate them)
  • Story or lullaby
  • Place in their cot to fall asleep


Please speak to your health visiting team for further advice and support around sleep routines.

Stop smoking / smoking cessation advice

If you or your partner smokes, this raises the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. For help giving up smoking, contact our smoking cessation team.

For further information on safer sleeping, see the Lullaby Trust website.

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