Safer Sleep Week

Safer Sleep Week is a national campaign run by The Lullaby Trust to raise awareness of preventive measures that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS occurs in small but tragic number of seemingly healthy babies in the UK and is unexpected and causes unexplained. Whilst it is rare in the UK, there are roughly 170 babies each year that tragically die from SIDS but the number has declined since the Safer Sleep Campaign started in the 1990’s.  

While there is no known way to completely prevent SIDS, there are several measures that are recommended by The Lullaby Trust to reduce the risk of SIDS: 

Back to sleep: Put baby to sleep on their back, there is strong evidence that this reduces the risk of SIDS.

Temperature: Young babies can not regulate their temperature and it is important your baby isn’t too hot or too cold. Keep the room where your baby sleeps between 16-20 degrees (which should feel a comfortable temperature for a lightly clothed adult). You can buy a room thermometer to know the exact temperature. To check if your baby is too hot, feel the back of their neck and if it is hot or sweaty, remove a layer of clothing or bedding. 

It is recommended that baby sleeps with light bedding or a well fitted lightweight sleeping bag. In colder weather you can get a higher tog sleeping bag or apply another blanket. Place baby at the bottom end of the cot/moses basket and firmly tuck in any loose bedding. During the winter it can be hard and expensive to keep rooms at the right temperature but research shows it’s better for baby to be cooler than too hot in prevention of SIDS. Babies do not need to wear a hat when indoors. 

Where should your baby sleep: The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own separate flat and clear space, a moses basket or cot is ideal. Their cot or moses basket is best in the same room as you, day and night. You can leave the room while baby is sleeping but it is safest when baby is sleeping with you close by. Keep your baby’s sleep area clear and avoid having pillows or soft toys in your baby’s sleep area as they can pose a suffocation risk.

Co-sleeping is best avoided but if you find yourself sharing a bed with your baby, read more about safer co-sleeping here.

No smoking: it is important to avoid smoking during pregnancy and keep your baby away from smoke after birth. Smoking during pregnancy and exposure to smoke after birth can increase the risk of SIDS by a third. Therefore, keep all areas where your baby spends time smoke free, including your car. The risks of smoking around a baby could be linked to 60% of sudden infant deaths.

Use of soothers/pacifiers: Consider offering your baby a soother before putting them down to sleep, day and night. It is not known exactly why using a soother helps prevent SIDS, but there is good evidence to show that using a soother helps reduces the chance of SIDS.  

Breastfeeding: If you’re able to breastfeed your baby this may help to reduce the chance of SIDS. Even breastfeeding for a short time can be beneficial. SIDS risk is halved in babies who are breastfed for at least 2 months. Both partial and exclusive breastfeeding (breast milk and formula) have been shown to be associated with a lower SIDS rate, but exclusive breastfeeding is associated with the lowest risk. 

Immunisations: Following the recommended schedule of vaccinations for your baby can  protect against many infectious diseases that can increase the risk of SIDS. Read more about Vaccinations and SIDS here

By following these preventative measures, you can provide a safer sleep environment for your baby and reduce the risk of SIDS.

As a new parent, preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can be a major concern. 

Visit Lullaby Trust or NHS website for more information and advice. It’s important to remember that SIDS can occur even when all precautions are taken. If you have any questions or worries then talk to your health professional.

14 March 2023