Trigger warning: Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy
A baby's sleep environment can increase their risk of SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy) including SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and other fatal sleeping accidents.
Following these recommended safe sleeping guidelines has been shown to reduce these risks.
- Always place your baby flat on their back to sleep. As a newborn, this will be easy to maintain. However once your baby learns to roll over (around 4-6months), they will often find their own position when sleeping. This is okay, but when you put them to bed, put them to sleep on their back.
- Never cover your baby's face or head this includes beanies, headbands or any clothing with a hoodie. Overheating has been shown as an identifiable risk factor for SUDI and headbands/beanies can slip down over their nose and mouth during their sleep.
- Prevent soft clothing and bedding from covering your baby's face by placing them at the very end of the cot, so their feet are touching the end. Use lightweight bedding and tuck securely at chest level, across your baby and under both sides of the mattress to keep baby safe and secure.
- Use a safe mattress and a cot that meets Australian safety standards. Look for Australian/NZ Standards AS/NZS 2172 for cots and AS/NZS 2195 for portable cots. And check the working condition of any cots you plan to buy. If you opt for a second-hand cot, they should still meet safety standards, be less than 10yrs old and be in good working order. A safe mattress is also important. It should be firm, clean and in good condition. When placed in the cot, it should not have more then a 2cm gap on any sides to prevent your baby becoming trapped or wedged in any gaps. The mattress must be flat, not tilted.
- Do not put your baby's head on a pillow. Do not place any soft toys, objects, cot bumpers or any soft bedding near or around your baby's head.
- It's also important not to sleep your baby on any makeshift bedding or a couch. Sleeping on a couch with or without someone else is extremely dangerous for babies.
- Avoid leaving your baby to sleep unsupervised in a car seat or stroller.
- A smoke-free environment is extremely important for safe sleeping and infant wellbeing, both before and after birth. Exposure even to second hand smoke has been shown to significantly increase the chances of SUDI.
- Share a room. It’s safest for your baby to share a room with you, sleeping in a cot next to your bed, for the first 6-12months.
- Never assume your family and friends know these guidelines for safe sleep. If someone is caring for your baby, make sure they are aware of how to settle and sleep your baby safely to prevent against SUDI.
Written by Keryn Thompson RM & IBCLC (L-301766)