Safe sleeping

Where should my baby sleep?

The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a clear safe sleeping space, such as a cot or moses basket in the same room as you.

It's very important not to share a bed or other sleep space with your baby if you or your partner:

  • are smokers (no matter where or when you smoke)
  • have recently drunk alcohol
  • are excessively tired
  • are drowsy from taking prescription medication
  • have recently used drugs

The risks of bed / sleep space sharing are also higher if your baby was:

  • premature (born before 37 weeks) 
  • a low birth weight (below 2.5kg or 5.5lb)

As well as a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), there's also a risk you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby. Your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or roll out of an adult bed and be injured.

Never sleep with a baby on a sofa or armchair. It's lovely to have your baby with you for a cuddle or a feed but sleeping with your baby on a sofa or armchair is linked to a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If you are sitting with your baby and you feel tired, there is a risk you may fall asleep. It's safest to put your baby back in their cot/moses basket.

The safest place for a baby to sleep is a separate cot, crib or Moses basket. They should have a firm, flat, waterproof mattress. You should not use:

  • pods or nests
  • pillows, duvets or thick heavy bedding
  • cot bumpers
  • hammocks
  • sleep positioners

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found. This is also known as 'cot death'. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen. Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to help reduce to chance of this tragedy occuring. Most SIDS deaths happen when babies are 6 months old or less.

How to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot in the same room as you, for the first 6 months.
  • Place your baby in the "feet to foot" position with their feet at the end of the cot or Moses basket.
  • Don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth and don't let anyone smoke in the same house as your baby.
  • Don't share a bed with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, if you take drugs, or you're a smoker.
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
  • Don't let your baby get too hot or cold. The best room temperature is about 16C - 20C.
  • If it's very warm, your baby may not need any bedclothes other than a sheet.
  • Keep your baby's head uncovered. Their blanket should be tucked in under their arms, not above shoulder height.
  • Babies often have minor illnesses, for more information or download the Baby Check app from the Lullaby Trust.
  • If your baby is unwell seek medical help promptly.

Bed sharing (co-sleeping)

Babies should sleep in a clear sleep space. A cot or Moses basket is best. We know that some families also bed share. You can try to reduce the risk whether you fall asleep accidentally, or choose to bed share. 

As well as a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), there's also a risk you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby. Your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or roll out of an adult bed and be injured.

To reduce the risk when bed sharing:

  • Keep pillows, sheets, blankets away from your baby. Keep any other items away that could cover your baby’s face and affect their breathing or cause them to overheat. A high number of infants who die as a result of SIDS are found with their head covered by loose bedding.
  • Follow all of our other safer sleep advice on this page to reduce the risk of SIDS such as sleeping baby on their back.
  • Avoid letting pets or other children also join you in the bed.
  • Make sure baby won’t fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall.

It is very dangerous to sleep with your baby if:

  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby. This can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death by 50 times.
  • You or your partner smoke (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom).
  • You or your partner has drunk alcohol
  • Your or your partner have taken medication or drugs.
  • Your baby was born before 37 weeks.
  • Your baby weighed 2.5kg or less at birth.

You should never sleep together with your baby if any of the above points apply to you or your partner. 

Visit the Lullaby Trust for more information on reducing the risk of co-sleeping 

Sleeping away from home

You and your child may visit family or friends. It is important to plan how you will create a safe sleep space for your child.

  • Plan ahead
  • Use a cot or Moses basket
  • If using a travel cot it should have rigid sides and base
  • An empty drawer placed on the floor could be used as a temporary cot
  • Control the temperature of the room. The best temperature is 16C – 20C
  • Place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Place your baby in the “feet to foot” position with their feet at the end of the cot or Moses basket
  • Keep your baby’s head uncovered
  • Babies should be taken out of their car seat when you are not travelling. You should take a break every 2 hours and remove your baby from their car seat to let them move around

For further information on sleep for your baby / child on Healthier Together.
Lullaby Trust:

UNICEF: ​​​​Caring for your baby at night

Child Accident Prevention Trust:

Basis Baby sleep source information

Understanding SIDs and SUDI

ICON - Babies cry you can cope


Where should you seek help?

Midwives provide advice, care and support for women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. They provide health education and parenting advice until care is transferred to a health visitor. This usually happens when your baby is about 2 weeks old.

Sound Advice

 

A midwife is an expert in normal pregnancy and birth.

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

All community pharmacies across England are required to be Healthy Living Pharmacies. This means that they are able to offer advice about a range of healthy living matters which includes eating a healthy diet. They can provide information leaflets and give parents/carers and young people more information about other organisations that might be able to also help them with healthy eating.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns, or to the Community Paediatricians, or the child and adolescent mental health services.

 

Contact your local Health Visiting Team:

Bradford Health Visitors or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield Health Visitors or call - 01924 310130

Craven Health Visitors or call - 01423 544265

Leeds Health Visitors or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information about what Health Visitors do: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

 

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Contact your local school nursing team:

Bradford School Nurses01274 221203

Wakefield School Nurses01924 310130

Leeds School Nurses - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale School Nurses030 3330 9974 (local rate number)

Kirklees School Nurses0300 304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

All children should be registered with a GP. Anyone in England can register for free with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

How to find your local GP.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Please note, the online version of NHS 111 is only recommended for children over the age of five. If your child is under five years old, please phone 111.

NHS 111 can also direct you to your nearest urgent treatment centre (minor injuries unit or walk-in centre).

Find your local urgent treatment centre.

When to visit an urgent treatment centre.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major trauma such as road traffic collisions

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.