The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in the same room as you. Their risk of cot death is lower than babies who sleep in a separate room.
Keep your baby's cot in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months.
Make sure the cot is in good condition and correctly assembled. The mattress should be clean, firm, flat with no tears and fit the cot. An uneven mattress could allow your baby to roll onto their side and stomach. There is a risk your baby could get trapped in a gap between the mattress and the edge of the cot if the mattress doesn't fit properly. This could lead to suffocation.
No pillows or sleep positioners
Do not use sleep positioners and other similar products. These include 'nests', 'cocoons', 'pods' or 'wedges'. They do not prevent cot death or flathead (plagiocephaly) and are a suffocation risk. This could lead to death.
These products may block your baby’s breathing. This can happen if their face is too close to the positioner or if they roll over onto their side or tummy. Extra items in a baby’s sleep space also increases them re-breathing in air they have exhaled.
Pillows and cushions should not be in the cot as they could suffocate your baby. Do not use them to elevate your baby's head during sleep. This does not reduce reflux and is not recommended.
Keep the cot clear of all objects
Do not have any soft objects and anything loose or fluffy in your baby's cot. This includes cot bumpers, comforters, duvets, toys, teddies, wedges and bedding rolls. These could suffocate or smother your baby.
Dangers to avoid
Sharing a bed with your baby (co-sleeping)
A separate cot in your room is the safest place for your baby to sleep.
Bed sharing or co-sleeping in the same bed can be dangerous. It can increase your baby’s risk of suffocation.
Suffocation can happen when your baby:
- slips under the bed covers
- rolls under an adult
- gets trapped between the bed and the wall
- falls out of the bed
Your baby should not share a bed with your other children.
In some situations it is very dangerous to share a bed with your baby. Do not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner:
- are smokers
- have taken alcohol, drugs, legal or illegal, or medication that may make you drowsy
- are over tired
You should not bed-share if your baby:
- is less than 3 months old
- was premature (born before 37 weeks)
- had a low birth weight - less than 2.5kg (kilograms) or 5.5lbs (pounds)
Sofa, armchairs and furniture
Never fall asleep while holding your baby on a sofa, couch, armchair or beanbag.
Sitting and carrying devices
Cot death does not only happen in a cot. It may happen in a pram, bed, car seat, baby seat or anywhere a baby is sleeping.
Sleeping in a sitting position can make it difficult for your baby to breathe.
Never leave your baby unsupervised in a sitting device. This includes a car seat, baby seat, sling, carrier or similar products. These sitting and carrying devices are not recommended for routine sleep in the home.
If your baby falls asleep in a sitting position, they should be placed on their back to sleep as soon as possible
Use the HSE's child proofing check list to help you child proof your home to protect your children. This list is also available from your public health nurse.
Print this child safety wallchart and keep within easy access in your home. Includes tips on child safety, first aid information and emergency contact details.