Published: Sunday 10 March 2019

With babies needing a lot of sleep in their first few months getting their sleeping space right is critical.

The safest place (for the first six months) is in either a Moses basket or cot, preferably in the same room as you.

Use a firm, flat mattress with a waterproof cover that can be wiped down. Make sure it fits the cot or Moses basket and there are no gaps at the side where small limbs could get caught.

There has been research that showed an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) through the use of a second-hand mattress but this link has not been fully proven. If you are using a second-hand mattress be confident that it is in good condition (firm and no rips or other damage) and has been protected by a waterproof cover, and also use a waterproof cover when you use it.

Don’t use bulky bedding such as quilts, pillows, duvets or cot bumpers and remove all soft toys. The simpler you can keep the bedding, the better. Recent advice has warned against using any sort of sleep wedge or product that holds a baby in one position.

Baby should be positioned on their back in the ‘feet to foot’ position (so with their feet at the end of the cot, so they cannot wriggle down).

So what should you look for when choosing a cot and mattress?

  • Make sure it conforms to British safety standards (BSEN716).
  • The distance between the top of the mattress and the top of the cot should be at least 50cm so baby can’t climb out.
  • All the bars should be vertical, rather than horizontal which could be used as a ladder for climbing! Each gap should be no more than 6.5cm so baby can’t get stuck.
  • If the cot is second hand and has been painted, check that the paint is not leaded, otherwise you’ll need to strip the paint and repaint it. Also remove any old stickers which could be a choking hazard.
  • Make sure any mechanisms for dropping the sides work correctly and stay in the correct position.
  • As well as being firm and flat without any damage, and with a waterproof cover, the mattress should be at least 8cm deep and conform to British Standard BS 1877-10:1997.

The Lullaby Trust cover safe sleeping for babies in great detail on their website so if this is a matter that you’ve got questions about, do spend some time taking in the advice they give. They have produced a handy guide to Safer Sleep for Babies which you can view here.

You can also find useful advice on choosing a cot on the Which website.

The NHS also provide guidelines for safe sleeping for babies.

If you'd like to feel confident about performing first aid on your baby or child, come along to our comprehensive three hour first aid for parents course. We run them at venues in Sussex, including Angmering near Worthing, and Brighton & Hove or, if you've a group of friends, from the comfort of your home.

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