Childminder Guides > Early Years Safety Blog > Safer Sleep in the Early Years

Safer Sleep in the Early Years

Keeping children safe in the early years


Following safer sleep advice reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Safer sleep advice* includes –

  • Lie baby on their back – not front or side.
  • Keep spaces around baby clear – do not add toys or bumpers.
  • Ensure the space used for baby to sleep is smoke free.
  • Remove or tie up blind cords so baby cannot reach them.
  • Check the room temperature to ensure it is comfortable – recommended 16 - 20C.
  • Do not add extra clothes – use a vest, baby grow and light blanket and check they are warm enough; if baby falls asleep on an outing, remove outside clothes on your return so they do not overheat.
  • If using a cot, place baby feet to bottom so they cannot wriggle down.
  • If using a pram, ensure it is lie flat to support baby’s body.
  • If baby falls asleep on a soft surface, remove them and place them in their usual sleep space.
  • If baby falls asleep in a car seat, remove them and put them in their usual sleep space when you get back to the setting.
  • Visually check baby frequently to ensure they are safe.
  • Ensure sleep spaces and bedding are in good condition and suitable for the age of the child – the Lullaby Trust advises against using pillows or duvets until baby is age 12 months or older.

*NHS advice -


Think about: review the sleep environment that you currently provide, do a risk assessment and consider whether it is safe.


Promoting sleep

How well do you promote sleep for early years children?

  • Are children tired when you put them down to sleep?
  • Are sleep areas restful and relaxing?
  • Do you offer a comfort object from home?
  • How well do you prepare babies for sleep?
  • Is the room an appropriate temperature?


Think about: how well do you / your staff promote sleep for children’s wellbeing.



Risk assessment

To comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) risk assessments do not need to be in writing.

You can do your risk assessment based on the safer sleep advice – but you should also consider the challenges that are related to early years provision – especially if you are a childminder working with different ages of children or you are part of a staff team in a nursery where you might have multiple children going to sleep at the same time.


Individual risk assessment: every risk assessment will be different – for example, one of the considerations for childminders is where in the house to put babies and children who need a sleep. 

  • Using upstairs - the chief fire officer in Cheshire advised us not to use the upstairs for sleeping, because if there’s a fire, we would have to leave the house without the baby.
  • Supervision – we will supervise babies and children during sleep times by checking them regularly to make sure they are breathing and comfortable. The checks will be visual, in addition to (if relevant) using a sound / visual monitor. You might want to discuss how often ‘regular’ is in your setting and how you support other children’s care and learning while you are checking on the sleeping babies.
  • Food / drink – babies and children are not put to sleep with food, bottles of water, juice or milk or cups because of the choking risk. They are never left to self-feed and will always be supervised by staff.
  • Sleep position – babies and children will sleep on their backs. Advice from the Lullaby Trust is that they should be gently rolled over if they fall asleep or turn onto their front.
  • Buggies / prams – we do not cover buggies or prams with blankets, whether to create shade or keep baby warm. We will reposition the buggy to avoid full sunlight where possible and ensure baby is not over-dressed, using a lightweight blanket, if needed, as advised by the Lullaby Trust. We do not use weighted blankets, sleeping bags or quilts, pillows or anything made from sheepskin.
  • Car seats – if babies or children fall asleep in car seats during a journey, they will be removed on our return to the settling and placed in their normal sleep place. This is to protect them from slumping forwards because they will be at risk from not being able to breathe properly. members will find more information about risk assessments on the website –


Conclusion: following the death of a baby in an early years group setting who was laid to sleep on his tummy, without proper care or consideration for his wellbeing and then left without being checked for an extended period of time, Ofsted inspectors will focus on safer sleep during inspection. You must follow safer sleep advice linked to the NHS website from the EYFS and ensure your risk assessment is robust.


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