Premature babies have greater chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Read our advice on how to reduce the risk.
Babies who are born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or of low birth weight (under 2.5kgs/5.5lb) are sometimes slept on the front in hospital for special medical reasons but should be slept on their backs when they go home unless you are advised otherwise by a doctor.
Premature babies are at higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) compared with babies born at full-term and it is even more important for them that all safer sleep advice is followed.
Safer sleep advice is for babies up to one year old. If your baby was premature, then you should follow our safer sleep advice for a year from their due date rather than when they were born.
Babies in neonatal units are under constant supervision and how your baby sleeps in hospital can be different to how they should sleep at home. In neonatal units, babies may sleep on their fronts, wear hats, or have rolled-up towels in their incubator, keeping them in one position. However, before going home the neonatal unit should get your baby used to sleeping on their back on a firm, flat mattress (not a nest or pod) without towels or anything other than sheets and a blanket or a baby sleeping bag in the cot.
Make sure you keep your baby safe by sleeping them on their back in the same room as you when you come home from hospital unless your doctor advises a different sleep position.
Baby hats should not need to be worn indoors, and never for sleep – your baby needs to lose excess heat through their head to avoid getting too hot.
Twins or multiples
Things to know about co-bedding multiple babies:
- Only place them side-by-side in a cot in the early weeks, when they can’t roll over or onto each other. Make sure they are not close enough to touch and block each other’s breathing
- Don’t use rolled up towels, pillows or anything else between their heads. The use of cot dividers is not recommended as these can be dangerous for your babies.
- It might be good to start sleeping them at opposite ends of their cot from the beginning – this means they’ll both be in the ‘feet to foot’ position (feet against the foot of the cot) with their own bedding firmly tucked in. Baby sleeping bags are a good option once baby’s weight reaches 8.8lbs or 4kg
- Once either of your babies have learnt to roll, you should move them to their own cot. This is to stop one baby from blocking the breathing of the other, or causing an accident
- We would not advise placing your twins in the same Moses basket, even when they are very small. This is to make sure they don’t overheat, which can increase the chance of SIDS
Please read our guide on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome for premature babies
If you have any questions about safer sleep advice and premature babies, please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.