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Safe sleep for babies - The dos' and don'ts

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) can happen to some babies for no apparent reason, but what experts do know are a few things that parents can do to reduce the risk, and here is how.

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep - in a cot in the same room as you, for the first 6 months

  • Place your baby in the "feet to foot" position, with their feet at the end of the cot or moses basket

  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition

  • If you can, breastfeed

  • Keep baby away from from cigarette smoke during pregnancy and after birth

  • Keep your baby's head uncovered - their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders. Cot bumpers, loose bedding and soft toys should be kept out of the cot

  • Let your baby get too hot or too cold

  • Never sleep with your baby in a chair or on the sofa

  • Don't share a bed with your baby if you smoke, have drunk alcohol or taken drugs

  • Don't sleep in the same bed with your baby if they were premature, low birth weight or you are extremely tired.

  • Don't put baby to sleep on their tummy

  • If you are wearing baby in a sling or carrier, do not cover their head with with a muslin or the sling material

The best sleeping position

For the first 6 months it is recommended that your baby sleeps in the same room as you. Evidence from across Europe showed that the risk of SIDS is significantly reduced when baby slept in the same room, but not the bed, as the parents.

Always put your baby on their back to sleep every sleep, day or night, as the chance of SIDS is particularly high for babies who are sometimes on their front or side. Again, there is strong evidence to show that sleeping them on their back significantly reduces the risk also.

Breastfeeding and SIDS

Breastfeeding for at least two months halves the risk of SIDS, however, if you bottle feed and follow all the other safe sleep advice, the chance of SIDS is very low, so don't worry if you choose not to breastfeed, or you are unable too.

Never sleep with your baby in a chair or on the sofa

This is one of the most high-risk situations for your baby. One study found that approximately one-sixth of infants in England and Wales who died of SIDS were found sleeping with an adult on the sofa.

If you think you might fall asleep, put baby down in a safe place to sleep.

Co-sleeping with your baby

You might chose to co-sleep with your baby and if you do, it is important that you know the risks but also know how to co-sleep safer

  • Keep pillows, blankets and sheets away from your baby and any other items that could obstruct your baby's breathing or cause them to overheat.

  • Follow all other safe sleep advice

  • Avoid letting pets or other children in the bed

  • Make sure that baby can't fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and wall

  • Don't co-sleep if you or your partner have been drinking, doing drugs or have been smoking

  • Don't co-sleep if your baby was low birth weight ( 2.5kg or 51/2lbs or less) or premature (before 37 weeks)

Room temperature

To avoid your baby from getting too hot or too cold, ensure that the room is ideally between 16 to 20C.

It is easier to remove layers as necessary. If the back of the neck is hot to touch or they are sweating, take off a layer. If it is very warm, your baby might not need clothes.

When you come indoors, make sure that you remove hats and extra clothing.

For more information on safe sleeping, The Lullaby Trust is a brilliant organisation to visit

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