We still do not know why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or cot death. However, experts do know that placing your baby in certain sleeping positions and some lifestyle behaviours either reduce or increase the risk of SIDS.
So, for example, although sharing your room with your baby for the first six months is recommended to reduce the risk of cot death, sharing your bed is not recommended. It is very easy to fall asleep whilst feeding your baby in bed at night and as a consequence some harm may befall your baby. It is therefore important that your baby sleep in a cot in your room and you get up to feed him or her during the night.
To make sure that your baby is as safe as possible, we advise the following:
- That the safest place for your baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot in the same room as you
- Place your baby on their back to sleep from the very beginning, for both day and night sleeps
- Never fall asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair
- It’s also unsafe to let your baby sleep alone in an adult bed, on a waterbed, beanbag or a sagging mattress
You should never share a bed with your baby if:
- You or your partner smoke (no matter where or when you smoke)
- You or your partner have had an alcoholic drink
- You or your partner have taken or are under the influence of drugs
- You are really tired (to a point where you would find it difficult to respond to your baby)
- You are obese
- You or your partner have epilepsy
SIDS is rare, so although it is important that you understand the steps to take to help reduce it happening, you should not let worrying about it prevent you from enjoying the first few months with your baby.
- Make sure your baby does not get too warm
- Your baby should not wear any more clothes than you
- The best room temperature for a baby is 16 - 18˚C
- You can get a simple room thermometer from most shops which sell baby equipment
- It is best to use sheets with blankets that have air holes
- Avoid duvets and quilts
Keep baby’s head uncovered. In hospital hats are often advised as baby adapts to life, however once home your baby should not wear a hat indoors. If on returning home from a trip outside and your baby has a hat on it should be removed.
When you put your baby in the cot, lie them on their back, with their feet at the bottom of the cot, however big the cot maybe. This will prevent your baby from wriggling under the blankets.
Read more about reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).