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If your baby was born premature or sick and has been discharged from the neonatal unit, find out more about sleeping at home.

Settling your baby to sleep

When you get home, it can take some time for your premature or sick baby to settle into their new environment. You may have some concerns about how little or often your baby will sleep, and how to get them into a sleeping routine.

The NHS website has more information on how to help your baby sleep that you may find helpful.

Premature babies often have lighter and more active sleep than babies born at full-term, and this means that they can have more frequent sleep difficulties. This can include restlessness and breathing problems at night, like pauses in breathing during sleep (sleep apnoea). If your baby seems unsettled, you can try stroking them to reassure them that you are there.

As your baby develops, you may find that their sleep patterns gradually become more similar to babies born at full-term. But every baby is different. If you are worried about any aspect of your baby’s sleep, talk to your health visitor or GP.

Safer sleeping

Babies born premature have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is sometimes called ‘cot death’. SIDS is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found. Although premature babies have a higher risk, all babies can be affected by SIDS. By following safer sleep advice you can reduce the risk.

The Lullaby Trust have more information on safer sleeping and SIDS, including a video, that you may find helpful. They also have information about safer sleeping that is specifically for premature babies. If you live in Scotland, The Scottish Cot Death Trust’s website has more information and a video about safer sleeping.

Most neonatal units will advise on safer sleeping as part of your discharge plan. If you need further advice or reassurance on safer sleeping, you may also find it helpful to talk to another parent or attend a local support group. Unit staff at your neonatal unit can tell you if there are any support groups in your area. The Lullaby Trust also have a free information line that you can call for more guidance on safer sleeping. Call 0808 802 6869.