Imagining your baby in any kind of danger is your worst nightmare. So, it’s important to know the risks of something as common as cot death, and how to prevent it. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or cot death, happens for many reasons.
It’s when a baby who’s 12 months old, or younger, suddenly dies during sleep with no warning signs. Infants between two and four months are most at risk.
Protect your little one
There isn’t a foolproof method to prevent SIDS, but there are ways to lower the risk.
Baby on his back
You may be tempted to place your baby on his side to sleep, but this puts him at risk of SIDS. This is because he can roll over onto his stomach. This position puts your baby’s face in the mattress, which can smother or suffocate him. Whether your baby is going to nap or sleep for the night, always place him flat on his back. Avoid leaving him to sleep in a pram or carseat for long periods. Tell anyone who takes care of your baby (babysitters, grandparents, friends, siblings etc.) how important it is to place your baby to sleep on his back.
No soft toys and bedding
You might think that soft bedding would be best for your baby’s comfort, but this increases the risk of suffocation and smothering. Only use a firm mattress for your baby’s cot and don’t stuff it with blankets, pillows, stuffed toys or cot bumpers. A fitted sheet is enough to keep your baby comfortable and lower the risk of SIDS.
Keep your baby cool
Overheating can increase the risk of SIDS. Dress your little one in light, comfortable clothes for sleeping and keep the temperature in the room comfortable. If the room temperature is lower than usual due to cooler weather, a onesie is the perfect clothing option if your baby is sleeping. It covers the arms, legs and feet. Avoid using blankets to keep your baby warm as he may get tangled in it while sleeping.
Don’t smoke around your babyBabies born to women who smoke during their pregnancies are three times more likely to die than babies born to non-smokers. Smoking when you’re pregnant or smoking near your baby (secondhand smoke) increases the risk of SIDS. Try to quit smoking and don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
Don’t co-sleep with your baby
Snuggling with your baby or breastfeeding is easier to do in your bed, but don’t share a bed with your baby while sleeping. It’s important to keep your baby close, but it’s dangerous for your little one to sleep with anyone in the same space. If your baby falls asleep in your arms, place him into his cot once he’s settled. You’ll lower the risk of your baby being suffocated or smothered by you or your partner while you sleep.
Immunise your babyAccording to the American Academy of Paediatrics; the risk of SIDS is 50% lower in babies who are immunised. Take your baby for all his necessary injections. Talk to your doctor about which ones your baby needs and any tips to keep your baby safe.
Breastfeed for as long as possible
Breastmilk helps protect your baby as the milk contains antibodies to keep away viruses and bacteria. It lowers the risk of SIDS by up to 50%, so breastfeed for as long as you can. Remember, you shouldn’t drink alcohol if you breastfeed as alcohol increases the risk of SIDS.