Safe sleeping for babies
If your baby is sleeping safely, you can relax. Read Dr Pixie's advice on avoiding SIDS
We all know that 'to sleep like a baby' means to sleep very well. But I bet that after the first few months of your baby's life, adorable though they are, you may well be wishing they slept a little more.
When they do go down, it's vital that babies sleep in a certain way. This is to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), commonly known as cot death. SIDS is the mostly unexplained death of an otherwise apparently well baby. Although it might occur when a baby is awake, it is much more likely during sleep, hence the name. Around 300 babies die from cot death each year in the UK, though the risk that your baby will be one of these is very low.
While we don't know the exact cause of cot death, we have identified certain factors that may contribute. The tragic truth about SIDS is that there is not much parents can do to prevent it – except to be aware of these contributing factors. For instance, the risk of SIDS can be reduced if parents don't smoke while pregnant or after the birth. This goes for you dads, too – and don't let visitors smoke in your home either.
The risk is greatest in the first six months of life, which is why many parents keep their children in the same room as them. It is not advisable to fall asleep with your baby in your bed or even on the sofa, as this is also found to be associated with increased risk. In 2014, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) changed their co-sleeping advice. The most recent recommendation warns against sleeping with a baby before the age of 12 months, which is a great leap from the previous advice not to co-sleep before six to eight weeks.
Back is best
In terms of safety, back is best. Babies should always be put on their backs to sleep both in their cots at night and for daytime naps. Tummy time is allowed but only with supervision during the day.
Prepare baby's sleeping space
The cot mattress should be firm and safety approved. It should be covered with a fitted sheet, and there should be no pillows or loose bedding. Blankets can be tucked in, but only from the shoulders down. Baby's feet should be touching the foot of the cot. Aim for a room temperature of 18°C: overheating is dangerous for babies. Never cover their heads for the same reason. Keep the cot clear of teddies, bumpers and blankets. And, finally, avoid exposure to passive smoking.
By Dr Pixie