What Steps Can I Take to Sleep My Baby Safely?

  1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
  2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
  3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
  4. Provide a Safe Sleeping Environment night and day (Safe cot, Safe mattress, Safe bedding)
  5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
  6. Breastfeed baby

1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side

The chance of babies dying suddenly and unexpectedly is greater if they sleep on their tummies or sides.

Healthy babies placed to sleep on the back are less likely to choke on vomit than tummy sleeping babies. In fact, sleeping baby on the back actually provides airway protection.

Some babies, with rare medical conditions, might have to sleep on the tummy or side but only do this if the baby’s medical practitioner advises to do so in writing.

2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered

Ensure that baby’s face and head stays uncovered during sleep. A good way to achieve this is to use a safe baby sleeping bag (a safe baby sleeping bag is designed especially for baby and has fitted neck and armholes and no hood). If you decide to use blankets, ensure that the baby’s feet are at the bottom of the cot to reduce the risk of baby slipping down under the blankets. Use lightweight blankets that can be tucked in securely.

Soft items in a baby’s sleeping environment can increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death. Remove quilts, doonas, duvets, pillows, cot bumpers, lambswool and fluffy toys.

3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after

Babies who are exposed to tobacco toxins during pregnancy or after birth have a significantly higher risk of sudden infant death and the risk increases if a baby sleeps with a parent who is a smoker. These risks still remain even if parents smoke outside, away from their baby.

To reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death, don’t let anyone smoke near your baby – not in the house, the car or anywhere else that your baby spends time.

If you want to quit smoking and you’re not finding it easy, ask for help. Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or ask your doctor, midwife or child health nurse for information and advice.

4. Provide a Safe Sleeping Environment night and day (Safe cot, Safe mattress, Safe bedding)

Cots, mattresses and environments that are unsafe increase the risk of sudden unexpected infant death.

5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months

Research has shown that sleeping baby in the same room, but not in the same bed, with the parents in the first six to twelve months of life reduces baby’s risk of SUDI. The protective effect of room sharing can be partially explained by increased adult supervision and observation of the baby This protective effect does not work if the baby is in the room with other children, probably because the children do not know if the baby is safe or not. Research also shows that sharing the same room during baby’s daytime sleeps is protective. A bassinette or portable cot which has been specifically designed as an infant sleeping environment can be used for daytime sleeps and moved from room to room for adult supervision. If this is not possible, safety of the baby’s sleep environment should be viewed as a priority over sharing the same room as baby for daytime sleeps.

6. Breastfeed baby

The evidence that breastfeeding has a protective effect against SUDI has been gathering over many years. Recent studies examining the role of breastfeeding in reducing SUDI show that there is now strong evidence that breastfeeding baby reduces the risk of sudden and unexpected infant death.


Last modified: 3/11/16