Safety at home and in the car

Sleeping safely

When choosing a cot, make sure you get one that meets the British safety standard (BSEN716) as it will have been designed to be as safe as possible. Cots with bars on all four sides allow air to circulate freely and they should not be more than 6.5cm apart so that your baby can’t get stuck between them. Make sure your cot mattress is clean, dry and free from cracks or tears. It needs to fit into the cot snugly without any gaps.
Babies find it difficult to control their temperature, make sure that the cot is not placed in front of a sunny window or close to a radiator.

Don’t leave soft toys, cot bumpers and soft bedding in the cot as these can cover a baby’s face and lead to suffocation. Place your baby at the bottom of the cot so that their feet touch the end, and don’t use a pillow. This helps to avoid baby getting covered by bedding.

It is safest for babies to sleep in a cot of their own. Some babies have been accidently suffocated by their parents when sleeping in the same bed. For more information on sleeping safely visit the Lullaby Trust.

Many parents find that they may sometimes want to bring their baby into their bed – this is particularly common for breastfeeding mothers. If doing this, it is important for parents to be familiar with safer bed-sharing practices. And do remember, bed-sharing is associated with an increased chance of SIDS or accidents if you have taken drugs or alcohol, are a smoker, or have a premature baby.

If you decide that co-sleeping is the way that you would like to sleep with your baby, then you should keep a few key points in mind. Keep any items that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat – eg. pillows, sheets or blankets – well away from your baby. Make sure baby cannot fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall or bed guards. Your baby should still sleep on their back. For images of safe co-sleeping please look at the image library on the Baby Sleep Information Source (BASIS).

Bathing safely

Babies can drown in a few centimetres of water so stay with them at all times. When filling the bath run the cold water first and then add hot water. Babies’ skin is thinner than adults so they are at more risk from scalds from hot water. Using your elbow to test the water is a good guide or a bath thermometer.

Getting around

It’s best if babies travel flat on their backs until around 6 months old when they are strong enough to support their heads themselves. When buying a pram or pushchair make sure it is suitable for your baby’s age and that it meets British safety standards.

There is a dedicated child car seat website full of advice and details of safety recalls which you can find at Rospa Child Car Seats.

Make sure the child seat for your car is the right one for your child’s height and weight and that it is fitted properly. There is a dedicated child car seat website full of advice and details of safety recalls.

For advice on how to avoid accidents, visit The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents