Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or cot death, affects around 300 babies born in the UK each year. Here’s what you need to know to minimise the risk.
The safe-sleep rules are as follows:
Always put baby down to sleep on their back
If they roll, reposition them. By around six months, they should be able to roll back onto their back on their own, and can then choose their most comfy sleeping position.
No toys or loose bedding in the sleep space
Newborns don’t need toys, and they aren’t safe around bumpers, pillows, and blankets—all of which pose a suffocation risk. Instead, use a baby sleeping bag, at the right temperature TOG, to keep your bubs warm (and safe).
Baby’s bed must be firm and flat
The mattress should not buckle, or have any gaps, but be flush with the edges of the cot or crib. It should also not be a hand-me-down, as old mattresses can harbour bacteria and dust mites.
Watch out for overheating
“Babies need a cooler room than most people might assume,” explain experts at The Lullaby Trust. A safe room temperature for babies is 16-20ºC (60.8-68ºF).
Either parent being a smoker increases the odds of SIDS—even if you’re not lighting up in the bedroom.
Never fall asleep with baby on a sofa or chair
If you’re exhausted and feeding your baby on a couch or armchair, set your alarm so you don’t nod off. Baby can quickly slide off on to the floor, or get trapped between cushions.
Room-share day and night
A 2013 study, funded by The Lullaby Trust, revealed that 75% of babies who succumbed to SIDS in the daytime were sleeping in a room by themselves. Keep your baby with you for naps and night sleep; the exact mechanism behind this is uncertain, but it may be that having Mum close by has a protective effect, with her ambient noise keeping babies from falling into too deep a sleep, or simply that you are close enough to respond if baby is in distress.