One of the biggest challenges for new parents is getting used to the changes that a baby will bring to their night-time routine. Most young babies wake and feed frequently both day and night, regardless of whether they are breastfed or bottle fed. It might be reassuring to know that it is both normal and essential for your baby to feed during the night. Babies grow quickly in the early weeks and months of their lives and have very small stomachs. Therefore they need to feed around the clock to meet their needs.
Putting your baby down to sleep
To keep your baby safe and to reduce the risk of sudden infant death (sometimes called cot death) always make sure:
- You put your baby down on her back to sleep, never on her front or side.
- The cot is beside the parents’ bed for at least the first six months.
- The mattress is firm and flat – soft beds, bean bags and sagging mattresses are not suitable.
- Your baby is not overdressed or covered with too much bedding (no more than you would use yourself).
- The bedding must not be able to cover the baby’s head.
- The room is not too hot (16-20ºC is ideal).
- The room where your baby sleeps is a smoke-free zone.
If you decided to share a bed with your baby
Some parents choose to sleep with their baby in bed and some fall asleep with their baby during the night while feeding and comforting whether they intend to or not. Therefore it is very important to consider the following points:
- Keep your baby away from the pillows.
- Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.
- Make sure the bedclothes cannot cover your baby’s face or head.
- Don’t leave your baby alone in the bed, as even very young babies can wriggle into a dangerous position.
- It is not safe to bed-share in the early months if your baby was born very small or preterm.
- Do not sleep with your baby when you have been drinking any alcohol or taking drugs that may cause drowsiness (legal or illegal).
- Do not sleep with your baby if you or anyone else is a smoker.
- Do not put yourself in a position where you could doze off with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
- Download the UNICEF ‘Caring for your baby at night’ guide for parents
- Download the Lullaby Trust 'Safer sleep for babies' guide for parents
- Find the Lullaby Trust ‘Safer sleep for babies' guide for parents available to download in different languages
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Safer sleep product checklist’ guide for parents
- Download the Lullaby Trust 'Safer sleep for babies, things you can do' easy read card
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Make a room game’ - a visual toolkit demonstrating the ideal sleeping environment for a baby
- Download the Lullaby Trust 'Spot the risk game' - a visual toolkit to facilitate discussions on reducing the risk of SIDS
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Back to sleep’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Bed-sharing’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Breastfeeding’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Dummies’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Mattresses, bedding and cots
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Smoking’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Temperature’ fact sheet
- Download the Lullaby Trust ‘Twins’ fact sheet
- For more information about safe sleeping and reducing the risk of SIDS
- For latest research on bed-sharing