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  • Writer's pictureSawtry Day Nursery

How to reduce the risk of SIDS

Our safer sleep advice gives simple steps for how you can sleep your baby to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which is commonly known as cot death. It can give you the peace of mind to enjoy this special time.

Our advice is based on strong scientific evidence and should be followed for all sleep periods, not just at night.

If you have any questions about SIDS or safer sleep, please call The Lullaby Trust information line on 0808 802 6869 (lines open Monday-Friday 10am-2pm).

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found.

What causes SIDS?

We do not know what causes SIDS. For many babies it is likely that a combination of factors affect them at a vulnerable stage of their development, which leads them to die suddenly and unexpectedly.

However, we do know you can significantly reduce the chance of SIDS occurring by following safer sleep advice.

ALWAYS put your baby...
On their BACK...
In a CLEAR cot or sleep space free of bumpers, toys, pillows and loose bedding.

What age babies are most at risk of SIDS? When does the risk decrease?

Around 86% of SIDS deaths happen when a baby is six months old or less. The most vulnerable period is under 3 months but it is important to follow safer sleep advice until your baby is 12 months old.

To reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby, follow our evidence-based safer sleep advice –such as sleeping your baby on their back in a clear sleep space – for the first six months.

After this time, the risk is reduced, however SIDS can still happen so it is best to continue the safer sleep routines you have built up over time.

Can SIDS be prevented? What are the biggest risk factors?

While SIDS cannot be completely prevented, you can reduce the risks of it occurring considerably by following our safer sleep advice. For example:

  • Sleep your 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. The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, flat, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.

  • 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 as this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.

  • Do not co-sleep with your baby if you or anyone in the bed have drunk any alcohol, smoke, been taking drugs or medication that make you drowsy; 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.

The above is especially important for babies who were born premature or of low birth weight, as these babies are at a higher risk of SIDS.

For more information you can visit The Lullaby Trust website or call the information line.

0808 802 6869 (lines open Monday-Friday 10am-2pm)


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