Safer Sleep

Information from Lullaby Trust –

Babies need a lot of sleep during the first few months of their lives so it’s important to ensure that they are sleeping as safely as possible.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under one year of age where no cause is found.  There are steps parents can take to help reduce the risk of it occurring. SIDS can happen at any time, not just at night, so the advice should be followed for all sleep times – day and night.


Always place your baby on their back to sleep

The risk of SIDS is reduced if baby is placed on the back to sleep and not on the front or side. Studies found that the risk of a SIDS death for infants placed on their tummy was over 6 times the risk for those infants placed on their back. Studies have also shown that infants who usually sleep on their back but are then placed on the front or side to sleep are at a particularly high risk. It is therefore important that babies are put on their backs consistently as part of their regular sleep routine.


Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth

Smoking during and after pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. During pregnancy, the number of cigarettes smoked is highly associated with risk. Therefore, the more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk of SIDS. Scientific evidence shows that around 30% of sudden infant deaths could be avoided if mothers didn’t smoke when they were pregnant. Taken together with the risks of smoking around a baby at home, this means that smoking could be linked to 60% of sudden infant deaths. If you smoke 1-9 cigarettes a day during pregnancy you are more than four times as likely to have a baby die as a sudden infant death than a woman who didn’t smoke at all during pregnancy. While smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day can increase the chance by nearly nine times. Passive smoking also significantly increases the risk of SIDS and the risk increases further where both parents smoke


Have your baby in your room to sleep

The safest place for your baby to sleep – night and day – is in a crib or cot in the room with you for the first six months.


Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS.

Studies have consistently shown a reduced risk of SIDS in breastfed infants. Exclusive breastfeeding (where only breast milk is given) is associated with the lowest risk, but breastfeeding of any duration may be beneficial for lowering the chance of SIDS compared to formula feeding alone. Numerous studies have supported the protective effects of breastfeeding, with one overview report concluding that breastfeeding reduces the incidence of SIDS by approximately half.


Avoid letting your baby get too hot.

Research has shown that overheating from excessive room temperature or overwrapping is associated with an increased risk of SIDS. Optimum room temperature is 16-20°C, combined with light bedding or a well-fitting sleep bag. Baby’s head must remain uncovered. Don’t use a pillow. Put your baby to sleep on a firm mattress and not a sofa. Don’t let baby be able to wriggle under the bedding.


Using a dummy

Research suggests that using a dummy when putting a baby down to sleep might reduce the risk of sudden infant death. If you choose to use a dummy, wait until breastfeeding is well established. Stop giving a dummy to your baby to go to sleep between 6 and 12 months. Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back in if your baby spits it out. If you use a dummy, make sure to offer it to your baby for every day and night time sleep.

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