Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby. It used to be known as ‘cot death’. While SIDS is rare, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risks:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, whether during the day or at night
- For the first six months, put your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you
- Check your baby has a clean, firm, flat, waterproof mattress that’s in good condition, and steer clear of soft or bulky bedding like pillows and quilts
- Avoid smoking during your pregnancy, and keep your baby in a smoke free environment.
- Breastfeed your baby if you can
Things to avoid
When you’re exhausted with a new baby it’s all too easy to drop off with the baby on your chest or lying next to you. But, sleeping with your baby on a sofa or armchair greatly increases the risks of SIDS, so get in the habit of putting your baby down to sleep in their cot or Moses basket.
If you’re feeling extremely tired (and which new mum isn’t?!) or if you smoke, have been drinking or have taken drugs or medication that makes you drowsy, don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby. Avoid sharing a bed if your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or had a low birth weight (less than 2.5 kg /5 lbs).
Don’t let your baby get too hot. Every baby’s different, so you’ll need to check on them regularly to make sure they’re comfortable. A room temperature of 16 – 20°C with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleeping bag is best. Babies don’t need to wear hats indoors.
Lie your baby down at the foot of the cot so they can’t wriggle down under blankets. Tuck blankets around them firmly, no higher than their shoulders so their head and face is uncovered.
Step by step to safer sleep
in this short film, our public health nurses show you everything you need to know:
For more information on safer sleep advice :
- The Lullaby Trust
- Little Lullaby– support for young parents, from young parents
- Infant Sleep Information Source – this website gives an overview of current research into sleep for babies. You can also download the free Infant Sleep Lab app.
- For help giving up smoking, speak to your public health nurse or midwife, or phone NHS Smokefree on 0800 02234332
- Caring for your baby at night – leaflet from Unicef
- Leaflet: Safer sleep for babies
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust run’s 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