You should use a firm and flat mattress that is protected by a waterproof cover. This will help keep the mattress clean and dry, as the cover can be wiped down. Make sure your baby’s mattress is in good condition and that it fits the Moses basket or cot properly.
It can be common to use a second-hand mattress either from friends and family, or from your previous children. There is some research that found an increased chance of SIDS when using a second-hand mattress although the link is not yet proven. To help reduce this risk, if you are using a second-hand mattress make sure the mattress you choose was previously completely protected by a waterproof cover, and then use one for your baby as well. The mattress should also still be firm and flat to keep your baby sleeping safely.
Firmly tucked in sheets and blankets (not above shoulder height) or a baby sleeping bag are safe for a baby to sleep in. Be sure to remove any soft toys from the cot before each sleep period. Sleep your baby in the feet-to-foot position and avoid using soft or bulky bedding such as quilts, pillows and duvets.
Pillow use alone has been shown to increase the chance of SIDS occurring by up to 2.5 times, so it may be helpful to talk to one of our helpline advisers if you were thinking of using one with your baby due to concerns for plagiocephaly (or ‘flat head syndrome’). There are techniques you can use that could help plagiocephaly which will not increase the risk of SIDS.
Cot bumpers can pose the risk of an accident to your baby once they begin to roll and move about the cot. There have been a number of cases in the UK and abroad where infants have become entangled in the ties and material, or fallen from pulling themselves up on the bumpers. A simple mattress in your cot with no loose bedding or bumpers is the safest sleeping place for a baby.
The Lullaby Trust factsheet on mattresses and bedding
The Lullaby Trust, ‘Safer Sleep for babies: a Guide for Parents’,