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Are you putting your baby to sleep correctly?

Find out the correct nursery temperature, clothing, bedding and safe sleeping position for your baby at bedtime

If you’ve got a baby, you know how crucial sleep is. But today, during Safer Sleep Week (12-18 March 2018), the Lullaby Trust and Which? are reminding parents that it’s also crucial to be aware of safe sleep guidelines to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The Lullaby Trust, a SIDS prevention charity, has a raft of advice for parents to follow to make sure your baby is out of harm’s way when put down for a nap in his or her nursery.

And our Which? product testing of cot beds and cot mattresses helps you choose with confidence where your baby sleeps .

Five baby safe sleep tips

  1. For children under the age of five, the recommended room temperature is 16-20ºC (61-68ºF). A room thermometer costs less than £5, but some baby monitors have a built-in temperature display. Check our baby monitor reviews to see which have this feature.
  2. The safest position for your baby to sleep in a cot or cot bed is on his or her back, not on the front or side (unless your doctor advises otherwise), until your baby is able to roll from back to front and back again.
  3. Never use a pillow, quilt or duvet if your baby is under one year old. Instead, use cotton sheets or lightweight blankets. Alternatively, use a baby sleeping bag instead of bedding.
  4. Place your baby with feet to the foot of the cot, so he or she can’t wriggle down under the covers. It can be dangerous if your baby’s head gets covered when he or she sleeps, so make sure you tuck in any bedclothes firmly and no higher than his or her shoulders.
  5. There is evidence to suggest that babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered, and some items added to a cot may increase the risk of head covering. Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot can also increase the risk of accidents, so make sure there are no soft toys, loose bedding or cot bumpers.

How to buy the best cot mattress

A crucial part of safe sleeping is choosing the best cot mattress and cot or cot bed.

  • The Lullaby Trust recommends a firm and flat mattress that is in a good condition, and ideally new. Our tests assess how firm a cot mattress is and how much body support it offers, so we can tell you whether it’s firm enough to help prevent your baby from being smothered if he or she rolls over onto his or her face while sleeping. We use 12kg and 20kg dummies to test how well it will support your baby’s growing spine, and we also check these measurements again after replicating roughly two to three years of use to see whether it will last as long as you need it to.
  • It’s important to get a cot mattress that is protected by a waterproof cover, as this will help to keep the mattress clean and dry in the event of any night-time accidents. We measure how resistant a mattress is to moisture, so you’ll know whether you need to invest in a separate waterproof cover.
  • Make sure you choose the right size of cot mattress. The mattress should fit the cot with no gaps down the side that are more than 3cm wide. Check that any mattress you use conforms to current British safety requirements – it should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:2011+A1:2012.

Head to our Best Buy cot mattress reviews to avoid buying a baby mattress that sags and will need replacing.

How to buy the best cot bed

Look for a cot that’s durable, and check it’s easy to assemble. The easier it is to assemble, the less chance you have of doing it incorrectly and putting your baby at risk.

Our safety and durability tests include a ‘jumping toddler test’ to check the strength of the bed base, as well as an ‘angry toddler test’ that involves shaking the side rails to gauge whether it will last as long as it should.

We also check for traps and potentially dangerous features such as loose bolts and fittings, as well as whether a cot bed is the correct dimensions and easy to assemble.

Where to place your cot bed for safer sleeping

Our guide to using cot beds safely has assembly tips. But you should also make sure that a cot bed is placed away from obvious danger, for example not beneath a wall-hanging frame, shelves or ledges.

Power cables are a strangulation hazard and should be kept well out of reach; even the smallest of babies can have a pretty tight grip. Similarly, strings and cords from curtains and blinds are another potential strangulation risk, so keep them well away.

As babies can easily overheat, make sure the cot bed isn’t next to a hot radiator or in direct sunlight. For more advice on putting your little one to sleep safely, take a look at our safe sleeping tips.

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