For most parents, there are two overwhelming emotions that we feel the moment we have that very first cuddle with our newborn: love, and fear. After 9 anxious months hoping for a healthy pregnancy, a straightforward birth and a healthy baby, it’s now that the worrying really begins! One serious concern for many new parents is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Cot Death – the terrifying possibility that your child could simply pass away in their sleep. So as a parent of a new baby, what can you do to minimise the risks of the unthinkable?
Whilst the precise causes of SIDS are unknown, what we do know is that there are some significant factors that some babies are more vulnerable to than others. Therefore in order to reduce the risks for your child, removing these factors can go someway to protecting them and giving you some peace of mind…
Reducing the risk of SIDS
What else can I do?
Share a room, not a bed
Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months, even during the day. A large study of evidence from across Europe found that the risk of sudden infant death was significantly reduced when the infant slept in the same room, but not the same bed, as the parents.
- The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you
- The chance of SIDS is lower when babies sleep in a separate cot in the same room as their parents
Sharing a bed is particularly dangerous if either you or your partner smoke (even if you don’t smoke in the bedroom), or if either of you has drunk alcohol. It’s also not advised to share a bed with a baby who was premature or born with a low birth weight as these are both risk factors for SIDS.
Breastfeed if possible
Numerous studies have shown that babies who are breastfed are less likely to be affected by SIDS – in fact it has been shown in some studies to reduce the incidence of SIDS by almost 50%. Even a brief period of breastfeeding can be protective for your baby. It has been shown that both partial and exclusive breastfeeding have been associated with a lower SIDS rate, but that exclusive breastfeeding was associated with the lowest risk.
Keep it simple. Whilst cot bumpers, quilts and fancy bedding may look adorable, all pose a risk of your little one overheating or getting tangled up – especially as they start to move around more. Firmly tucked in sheets and blankets (below shoulder height) or a baby sleeping bag are all that your baby needs and a pillow definitely isn’t necessary.