Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – sometimes known as "cot death" – is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. SIDS is rare and the risk of your baby dying from it is low. Data from the Lullaby Trust shows that 88% of SIDS deaths occur within the first six months. Although the cause of most SIDS is unknown, it is known that babies who are at higher risk are those born prematurely or with a low birthweight, and the risk is slightly higher in baby boys. SIDS usually occurs when a baby is asleep, although it can occasionally happen while they're awake. Although the risk of your baby dying from SIDS is low research has shown that parents can significantly reduce the chance of SIDS occurring by following safer sleep practices.
SAFER SLEEP PRACTICES
Put baby on their back for all sleeps – day and night – as this can reduce the risk of SIDS by six times compared to sleeping them on their front.
Share a room with your baby for the first six months – this can halve the risk of SIDS.
Keep your baby smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth – this is one of the most protective things you can do for your baby. Around 60% of sudden infant deaths could be avoided if no baby was exposed to smoke during pregnancy or around the home.
Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby - this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.
Do not co-sleep with your baby if: you or your partner has been drinking, is a smoker, has been taking drugs or is extremely tired; these factors can put babies at an extremely high risk of SIDS when co-sleeping. One study found that the risk of SIDS when co-sleeping is six times higher in smokers than in non-smokers.
OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER.
Swaddling It is fine to swaddle your baby. However, make sure that the baby is always on his or her back when swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for the baby to breathe or move his or her hips. When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling. Pacifiers/Dummies Research has shown that using a pacifier/dummy helps reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are breastfeeding it is advised to wait until breastfeeding is well established, ie. 2-3 weeks before commencing the use of a pacifier. Not all babies are receptive to a pacifier, some babies just do not like them; if so do not worry. Bed-sharing Bed sharing is for the most part not recommended. But bed sharing is shown to be riskier when:
Your baby is younger than 4 months old.
Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy.
You have taken any medicines or drugs that might make it harder for you to wake up. You or your partner drank any alcohol.
You are not the baby's parent.
The surface is soft, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
There is soft bedding like pillows or blankets on the bed.
Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby's sleep area. This includes: pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides.
To keep your baby warm consider a “sleep sack” that is the appropriate size for his/her age; and thickness for the season.
Do not let your child fall asleep on nursing pillows or pillow-like lounging pads.
Use Caution When Buying Products
There are many products on the market, claiming to make your baby sleep better, reduce the risk of SIDS, reduce the risk of a misshapen head etc. Before purchasing it is always worth to do a little product research. Resources such as The Lullaby Trust have good guidance on products.
Further Reading and Other Resources https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/08/Caring-for-your-baby-at- night-web.pdf https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe- Sleep.aspx https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/