There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk — and we've pulled together all the essential advice.
Put baby to sleep on their back When experts recommended that babies be placed to sleep on their back in the early s, the rate of death from SIDS dropped. This is because babies who sleep on their front are more likely to overheat, have pauses in breathing, and rebreathe air they have just inhaled, which is low in oxygen.
Placing your baby to sleep on their back until they are at least 12 months is sound advice for protecting your baby — and you should make sure that relatives and babysitters know the rules, too.
Once your baby starts rolling at five or six months old, you will find them in all sorts of different positions. There is no need to panic, as their risk of SIDS has started to drop by this age, but it is worth moving them to their back when you find them.
Avoid sleep positioners You will find various sleep positioners on sale that promise to keep your baby on their back throughout the night. The official advice is not to use them, after a spate of infant deaths through suffocation.
Instead, make a habit of checking your baby regularly.
Argue in front of the kids — it makes them tense. You may want to take a copy of the standards with you just to check what you are buying adheres to the safety guidelines.
Let baby sleep on their own It can be tempting to cuddle your baby on the sofa all evening, but being a parent is tiring and you run the risk of dozing off too.
If that happens, your baby is at a much higher than average risk of SIDS, so you should always take your sleeping baby and place them in their basket, crib or cot to sleep on their own when they drop off.
Choose safe bedding There have been several studies that link a higher risk of SIDS to soft sleeping surfaces, such as beanbags, sofas, comforters, waterbeds, and quilts — so the mattress that you choose for your baby should be firm and flat, with nothing but a well-fitted sheet on top. Avoid using blankets and instead choose a sleeping bag that will keep your baby warm without any risk of their head becoming covered.
Never place soft toys inside the cot and avoid cot bumpers, which pose a risk to your baby and prevent air circulating freely.
Never let baby sleep for too long in their car seat Babies can get very hot sleeping in their car seats, which means they are at a much greater risk of SIDS. Their heads are also positioned in a way that can inhibit breathing, so you should always transfer them to their cot, crib, or basket as soon as you get home. The same rule applies for prams, bouncy seats, infant carriers and slings, and swings, especially if your baby is under four months old.
Sleep in the same room as your baby Statistics prove that sleeping in the same room as your baby for at least six months reduces the risk of SIDS significantly. However, avoid sharing a bed with your baby as it poses risks. Instead, place their crib, cot, or basket next to your bed so they are close when they wake, and place them back inside after their feed.
Dress them in one extra layer than you would wear in the same temperature — and make sure you check on your baby regularly for signs that they are hot, such as sweating or damp hair.
Never cover their head when they are sleeping with hoods or hats, which can increase their body temperature dramatically. Your browser cannot play this video.
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