Baby moses basket

They’ll spend most of their time as a newborn snoozing. So here are our tips on where to put your baby for naps and nighttime sleeping…

Where should my baby sleep?

Places your baby can sleep include:

  • a cot
  • a bedside cot or side-sleeper
  • a Moses basket
  • a travel cot
  • a sling
  • your bed.

Choosing where your baby sleeps is super-personal and might depend on your culture. You might also be absolutely sure that your baby will sleep in bed with you. On the other hand, you might feel like you’d never relax with them in the bed.

Oh, and remember – you don’t always choose where your baby sleeps. They can and will nod off wherever and whenever they fancy, especially in the early months.

Where should my baby sleep at night?

Until they are six months old, you should put your baby to sleep in the same room as you in a separate cot or Moses basket. This arrangement has the lowest chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Blair et al, 1999; Carpenter et al, 2004).

Where should my baby sleep during the daytime?

Actually, the same rules apply during the daytime as they do at night. Ideally, for the first six months, your baby will sleep in their Moses basket or cot in the same room as you even for their daytime naps (Lullaby Trust, 2018).

"In reality, babies often fall asleep in the car seat, pram or buggy, sling or anywhere they get comfy and fancy a snooze."

There can be downsides to those unexpected snoozes though. For example, your baby might overheat if they’re dressed for the cold outside but then they’re moved inside. Remember to remove any extra layers if that happens and choose outer clothes with zips to make this easier (Fleming et al, 1996).

If your baby is very young, don’t let them sleep in their car seat for more than 90 minutes (Lullaby Trust, 2016). If you arrive home when they’ve dozed off in there, transfer them over to a Moses basket.

Other baby sleeping safety tips

To keep your sleeping baby as safe as possible:

  • Put your baby to sleep on their back. For more information read our article on the best sleeping position for your baby.
  • Make sure your baby can’t wriggle down under covers or have their head covered by the bedding. See our article on cot safety.
  • Do not smoke anywhere near your baby.
  • Check that your baby’s cot, bedside cot or travel cot conforms to safety standards.
  • Don’t use bumpers or pillows.
  • If you’re using a bedside crib, make sure the folding side is fully down so your baby can’t get stuck on it. For more information see our piece on cot safety.

(Blair et al, 1996; Blair et al, 2009)

Co-sleeping and bed sharing

Around half of all parents in the UK sleep with their baby at some time in the first few months after birth (Blair and Ball, 2004). This is known as co-sleeping or bed sharing and it’s important to know how to do it safely as it carries risks (Ball and Blair, 2017). See our piece on co-sleeping for more information.

You might co-sleep by choice, possibly because you find it less exhausting than getting up each time to feed or settle your baby (Ball et al, 1999; Ball, 2006). Or you may just end up doing it accidentally because you nod off when you’re feeding or cuddling your baby (McKenna and Volpe, 2007).

But do bear in mind that co-sleeping or bed sharing puts your baby at risk of SIDS. Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair as it greatly increases the risk of SIDS (Carpenter et al, 2004; Blair et al, 2009; Blair et al, 2014; Ball and Blair, 2017).

What is bedside sleeping?

Bedside sleeping is when your baby sleeps in a bedside cot. This allows you to be close to them without sharing the same bed.

The idea is that the bedside cot attaches securely to your bed, at the same level as your mattress with the side next to you open. Then you can reach out to your baby without the bother of getting out of bed.

There’s limited research on bedside cots but possible benefits include:

  • Making life easier when your movements are limited after a caesarean (you won’t have to get out of bed to feed or settle your baby).
  • Closeness might help with bonding.
  • You can easily settle your baby back to sleep.
  • Your baby will be nearby for night feeds.
  • It might encourage breastfeeding if you had an intervention-free birth.

(Ball et al, 2006; Ball, 2008; Tully and Ball, 2011; Robinson, 2014)

The same health and safety guidelines for bed-sharing apply if you use the bedside cot as they do for your baby sleeping in your bed. Check out our cot safety and safe co-sleeping pages for advice.

This page was last reviewed in February 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

The Lullaby Trust has lots of useful information and support for parents about safe sleep.

You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Ball H. (2006) Parent-infant bed-sharing behavior: effects of feeding type, and presence of father. Human Nature: an interdisciplinary biosocial perspective. 17(3):301-318. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26181475  [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Ball HL, Hooker E, Kelly PJ. (1999) Where will the baby sleep? Attitudes and practices of new and experienced parents regarding co-sleeping with their newborn infants. American Anthropologist 101(1):143-151. Available from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/683347 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Ball H, Blair P. (2017) Health professionals’ guide to caring for your baby at night. Unicef Baby Friendly UK. Available from: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/11/Caring-for-your-Baby-at-Night-A-Health-Professionals-Guide.pdf [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Ball HL, Ward-Platt MP, et al. (2006). Randomised trial of infant sleep location on the postnatal ward. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 91:1005-1010. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16849364  [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Ball H, Blair P. (2017) Health professionals’ guide to caring for your baby at night. Unicef Baby Friendly UK. Available from: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/11/Caring-for-your-Baby-at-Night-A-Health-Professionals-Guide.pdf [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Blair PS, Platt MW, Smith IJ, Fleming PJ. (2006a) Sudden infant death syndrome and the time of death: factors associated with night-time and day-time deaths. Int J Epidemiol. 35(6):1563-1569. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17148463 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Blair PS, Platt MW, Smith IJ, Fleming PJ. (2006b) Sudden infant death syndrome and sleeping position in pre-term and low birth weight infants: an opportunity for targeted intervention. Arch Dis Child. 91(2):101-106. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15914498 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Blair PS, Ball HL (2004). The prevalence and characteristics associated with parent-infant bed-sharing in England. Arch Dis Child. 89(12):1106-1110. https://adc.bmj.com/content/archdischild/89/12/1106.full.pdf [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Carpenter RG, Irgens LM, Blair PS, England PD, Fleming P, Huber J, et al. (2004) Sudden unexplained infant death in 20 regions in Europe: case control study. Lancet. 363(9404):185-191.  Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14738790 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Fleming PJ, Blair PS, Bacon C, Bensley D, Smith I, Taylor E, et al. (1996) Environment of infants during sleep and risk of the sudden infant death syndrome: results from 1993-5 case-control study for confidential inquiry into stillbirths and deaths in infancy. BMJ. 313:191-195.  Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8696193 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Hooker E, Ball HL, Kelly PJ. (2001) Sleeping like a baby: attitudes and experiences of bedsharing in Northeast England. Medical Anthropology 19:203-222. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11341178 [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Lullaby Trust. (2016) Evidence base. Available from: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/research/evidence-base/ [Accessed 1st February 2018]

McKenna JJ, Volpe LE. (2007) Sleeping with baby: an internet-based sampling of parental experiences, choices, perceptions, and interpretations in a western industrialized context. Infant Child Dev. 16: 359-385.  Available from: http://media.charlotteobserver.com/static/images/graphics/sids/McKennabedsharing.pdf [Accessed 1st February 2018]

Tully KP, Ball HL (2011) Postnatal unit bassinet types when rooming-In after caesarean birth: implications for breastfeeding and infant safety. Journal of Human Lactation. 28(4):495-505. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914755  [Accessed 1st February 2018]

UK Baby Friendly Initiative. (2017) Caring for your baby at night. Available from: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/leaflets-and-posters/caring-for-your-baby-at-night/ [Accessed 1st February 2018]

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