Choosing what items your baby might need can be overwhelming. To help with this we have put together a product guide with information on how to choose the products or items your baby needs to reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), what types of products you should avoid and what the marketing actually means.
Our evidence-based advice on choosing baby sleeping products
The number of products available can be confusing, so sticking to this simple guideline can help parents make an informed choice:
The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, flat, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket. We recommend a firm, flat, waterproof mattress.
We would not advise using products like swings and baby bouncers as sleep spaces as they are not firm and flat. If your baby falls asleep in a swing or baby bouncer, they should be taken out and put in their own clear separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket.
Even if you are planning to co-sleep with your baby, we recommend that you have a cot or Moses basket for times when sharing a bed with your baby may be high risk, for example if you are ill, on medication, have drunk alcohol etc. Click here for more info on co-sleeping.
More information about products
New baby sleep products come on to the market regularly. We don’t generally recommend for or against any individual brand of product. We do have some corporate partnerships with key manufacturers, but these do not influence the research that our safer sleep advice is based on.
The research that backs up our safer sleep advice has found that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket that has a firm, flat surface with a waterproof cover, and that the sleeping surface is in good condition and undamaged.
Things to check
Does the item comply with British Standards? If so it should say on the product itself, its packaging, instructions or website.
If the item is something for your baby to sleep on such as a mattress is it:
• firm? (baby’s head should not sink in by more than a few millimetres)
• entirely flat with no raised or cushioned areas?
• does it have a waterproof cover?
A few essentials that you need
For safer sleep you don’t need to buy lots of products or spend more on expensive items. There are just a few items that we would recommend
• cot or Moses basket
• portable sleep space such as Moses basket, travel cot or carry cot
• sleeping bag or sheets and a blanket
• room thermometer
• car seat
Products that we would advise you not to buy
There are some items that we would not recommend
• pods or nests
• pillows, duvets or thick heavy bedding
• cot bumpers
• sleep positioners
Frequently asked questions
Is this product safe?
Some products clearly do not fit within our guidelines. We don’t comment on individual brands but have put together a product guide on what to look for and what to avoid when buying sleeping products for your baby.
The key things are to make sure the mattress is firm, entirely flat with no raised or cushioned areas and waterproof and the cot is kept free of bumpers, toys and loose bedding. Pillows and duvets should not be used for babies under 12 months.
This product claims no baby has ever died of SIDS whilst using it?
Our safer sleep advice is based on extensive research but the research only looks at SIDS, not individual products. As new products are launched all the time, it would not be possible for us to to test them and so we have to look at the evidence collected over many years that shows a firm and flat surface is best for sleeping babies.
As the number of babies dying of SIDS in the UK is now thankfully very low, this does not help to tell us whether or not a product is safe.
This product says it has passed safety tests – does this refer to Safer Sleep?
We encourage parents to make sure that any product they buy has a British Standard, particularly when buying a product over the internet. A British Standard does not mean that a product helps to reduce the chance of SIDS, but just guarantees a certain level of general safety (e.g. will not fall apart or set fire easily). You should also carefully follow the manufacturers’ instructions for any product you buy and contact the manufacturer directly with any questions.
Still confused about a baby sleeping product?
If this advice seems confusing then it may be easier to remember our simple sleep advice. For sleep, a ‘clear cot’ with a firm, flat, waterproof mattress is fine.
A ‘clear cot’ is one that only includes the essentials a baby needs: a flat, waterproof mattress and some bedding, but nothing else. Three key questions you could ask are:
- Is it firm?
- Is it flat?
- Does it have a waterproof cover?
For help with choosing products, please download our product guide below.