15 Things Parents Can Do to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
How common is SIDS?
In the UK, approximately 230 babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) every year. Thankfully, annual rates of SIDS have been declining in the UK since the Back to Sleep Campaign, but there is still much work to be done.
SIDS Risk Reduction Starts With Sleep
While many cot deaths have no explanation, there are certain risk factors that dramatically increase a baby's risk of SIDS. Providing a safe sleep environment is the single most important step you can take to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS. Cot death is not a topic anyone wants to think about—but thankfully, there are many ways to reduce your baby’s risk.
15 Tips to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
- Only let your baby sleep on the back.
Breastfeed if you can: Babies who are breastfed or fed expressed breastmilk are at lower risk for SIDS compared to babies who were never fed breastmilk. And the longer you exclusively breastfeed your baby, the lower their risk.
- Have a smoke-free house: Do not smoke or allow others to do so. Avoid wood stoves, incense, scented candles, and fireplaces, unless the room is well vented.
Avoid overheating or overcooling: Keep the room 20–22.2°C, and avoid overdressing. Your baby’s ears should feel slightly warm, not cold or hot.
- Swaddle for sleep. Snug wrapping helps recreate the cozy confines of the womb to aid baby sleep and soothe fussing—which may help chip away at the parental exhaustion that can lead Mums and Dads to make risky sleep decisions. Just make sure you swaddle the right way and stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of rolling (unless you are using SNOO, which has a special swaddle that can be used for up to 6 months).
- Offer a dummy at bedtime (if you are breastfeeding, wait a couple of weeks until the nursing is well established before giving a dummy).
- Do not sleep with your baby in your bed for the first year.
- Never let your baby sleep on a couch, recliner, sofa, armchair, beanbag chair, or waterbed.
- Remove pillows, toys, bumpers, and thick or loose bedding that could cause smothering, like duvets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, positioners, lambskins. (This is the age when you can safely introduce a pillow.)
- No thick blankets under the baby, either.
- Practice tummy time to help your baby develop strong muscles to move their face away from choking and suffocation risks.
- Do not let your baby sleep sitting up in a car seat, infant carrier or upright swing (especially if they are premature or developmentally delayed).
- Sleep in the same room as your baby for the first 6 months, with the baby in a cot right near you.
- Make sure your baby has received all their immunisations.
- Avoid cots with missing slats, net siding or a space between the mattress and the side wall where your baby’s head might get trapped.
Reducing the Risk of SIDS: Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to prevent SIDS. But, most babies who die have at least one of these risk factors, so following all these tips to prevent SIDS can definitely make your baby safer! For a complete list of safety tips for parents and caregivers visit https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/.
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.