Keeping babies safe when they are sleeping is something all parents think about. Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) is the term used to describe any incident that leads to a child’s unexpected death, which can include illnesses, sleep accidents, injuries, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is when a baby dies suddenly and without warning, and there’s no obvious explanation.
Red Nose was founded to create awareness about safe sleeping practices for babies, based on numerous studies that have been conducted over the years. Here are their six simple recommendations to create a safe sleeping space for your baby.
1. Sleep baby on the back, not on the tummy or side.
Red Nose recommends that right from birth, babies should be put to sleep on their back, on a firm, flat surface (unless, of course, your baby has a medical condition that your doctor recommends another sleeping position for). It’s not known the exact reason why tummy and side sleeping leads to more cases of SIDS, but one theory is that they can lead to throat obstructions, which can be a choking hazard if the baby regurgitates milk. There has been an 83% decline in Australia’s SIDS rate, which is mostly because parents are now placing babies to sleep on their back.
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered.
When your baby is placed to sleep, check that:
- The baby’s feet are positioned at the bottom of the cot, so they can’t slip down under the bedding.
- All bedding is tucked in securely, with no doonas, loose bedding, pillows or soft toys in the cot.
- Your baby is not wearing any head coverings including bonnets, beanies, hats or hooded clothing...
- See the Red Nose guidelines for safe baby bedding for more information.
3. Keep baby smoke-free before birth and after.
Try to not let anyone smoke near your baby. Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke either before or after they’re born have an increased risk dying suddenly. Evidence suggests that babies are still exposed to tobacco even when parents smoke outside, away from the baby. For more information, see this article from Red Nose. If you smoke, call the Quitline on 137 848 for help to quit.
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day.
Things to look out for to make the sleeping environment safe include:
- Never leave baby unattended on an adult bed, waterbed, beanbag or couch.
- Avoid falling asleep with the baby on a couch, sofa or chair.
- Keep the cot away from hanging cords (such as from blinds, curtains or mobiles), as well as heaters and electrical appliances.
- Never use electric blankets, hot water bottles or wheat bags for babies.
5. Keep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first 6-12 months.
Red Nose recommends the baby sleep in a cot next to your bed for the first 6-12 months of life. Placing your baby on firm, flat mattress and stying nearby important for both night-time and daytime sleeps.
6. Breastfeed baby if possible.
Breast milk contains substances that reduce the risk of infection and improve central nervous system development in the first six months of life, when SIDS is most common. See this Red Nose statement on breastfeeding for more information.
For more information on safe sleeping for babies, visit rednose.org.au.
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