Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby. It used to be known as ‘cot death’. While SIDS is now very rare, over 200 babies still die every year. We now have more understanding of the situations in which babies die and what can be done to reduce the risks. Here are the key messages for safer sleep:
- For the first six months your baby should:
- sleep in the same room as you night and day
- Be placed on their back not their front or side for every sleep
- Ensure your baby has a clear, flat and safe sleep space. Whatever space you choose, it needs to have:
- A firm, flat mattress with no raised or cushioned areas
- No pillows, quilts, duvets, cot bumpers or soft toys
- No pods, nests or sleep positioners
- Also, make sure your baby’s head is kept uncovered so they don’t get too hot
- Avoid smoking during your pregnancy, and keep your baby in a smoke free environment.
- Breastfeed your baby if you can, as this has been shown to reduce the incidence of SIDS
- Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. The risk of SIDS is 50 times higher for babies when they sleep on a sofa or armchair with an adult
Co-sleeping with your baby
Many parents bring their babies into bed to sleep for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is to breastfeed, with mothers’ finding it helps make night time feeding less disruptive.
However, in order for you to make an informed decision, it’s really important that you’re aware of how to practice safer co-sleeping, and know there are circumstances in which co-sleeping with your baby can be dangerous.
Before you bed share, consider whether you’re happy it’s safe for your baby.
For safer co-sleeping:
- Keep pillows, sheets and blankets away from your baby, as well as any other items that could cause them to overheat
- Follow all other safer sleep advice to reduce the risk of SIDS, such as sleeping your baby on their back
- Avoid letting pets or other children in the bed
- Make sure baby won’t fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall
When not to co-sleep:
- If either you or your partner smokes (even if you don’t smoke in the bedroom)
- If either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
- If you are extremely tired
- If your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less)
- If your baby was born at a very low birth weight (2.5kg or 5.5lbs or less)
How to co-sleep more safely
For more information on safer sleep advice :
- The Lullaby Trust: Co-sleeping with your baby
- Little Lullaby– support for young parents, from young parents
- BASIS: Baby Sleep Info Source– providing information about normal infant sleep for parents based on latest research. You can also download the free Infant Sleep Info app for Apple and Android.
- For help giving up smoking, speak to your public health nurse or midwife, or phone NHS Smokefree on 0800 02234332
- Unicef leaflet- Caring for your baby at night
- The Lullaby Trust leaflet- Safer sleep for babies
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382