Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death during sleep of an apparently healthy child, under the age of one. A diagnosis of SIDS can only be applied after adequate postmortem investigations reveal no other causes. SIDS could be said to be a sudden death during sleep for no apparent reason.

It is impossible to predict if a child will succumb to SIDS. Medical research has failed to pinpoint a single exact cause but it has indicated various “risk factors” Knowing where the risk is can help you to eliminate them and thereby reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 75%. Use these guidelines to help provide a safe sleep environment for your baby.

*Put your baby to sleep on his back.

The back-to-sleep campaign is thought to have reduced Sudden Infant deaths by between 50 – 75%. This is fairly new advice. Older moms (like me!) were probably told to put babies to sleep on their stomachs. However, a medical opinion is unanimous. Putting a baby to sleep on his/her back is the single most important thing you can do to prevent SIDS.

*Use a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.

Do not put the baby to sleep (even for a nap) on soft surfaces such as water beds, sofa cushions, sheepskin, or sleeping bags.

*Remove all soft things from the crib/sleep area

Take away the fluffy blanket, pillows, soft toys, duvets, etc

*Keep baby’s face uncovered.

Make sure that the baby’s face stays uncovered and that blankets cannot shuffle up during the night. It is better to use sleep clothing rather than blankets. If you do use a blanket make sure that you place the baby at the foot of the crib (with his feet to the bottom) and the blanket firmly tucked under the mattress and no higher than the baby’s chest.

Do not smoke

Do not smoke during pregnancy and do not allow others to smoke around your baby.

*Sleep near to your baby.

It is suggested that you should keep the baby in the parent’s bedroom until 6 months old. It is NOT intended that you share a bed with your infant. It is hard to follow the SIDS prevention rules in an adult bed. The mattress is usually too soft and the pillows and fluffy bedding provide additional risks.

*If you use a pacifier for sleep or nap times do not reinsert it once the baby is asleep

*Do not allow your baby to overheat

The room should be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. Do not use too many clothes or blankets.

*Make sure everyone knows these prevention tips.

Some of this advice is new (especially back to sleep) and older carers may not know. It is important that everyone who looks after your baby is aware of the steps to keep your baby safe.