Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which used to be called 'cot death', is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found. Although SIDS is rare, it still accounts for a small but significant amount of deaths among babies and infants across the UK every year. Every one of these deaths is a tragic and unexpected loss for a family.
Although there is no clear cause or explanation for why SIDS happens, research has identified a simple set of key messages for parents and carers that may help reduce the risk of it happening to their baby.
This advice should be followed at all nap times, not just overnight sleeps:
Always place your baby on their back to sleep, with their feet at the foot of the cot. The safest place for your baby to sleep for their first 6 months is in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.
Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress that is clean and in good condition.
Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth. For help and advice speak to your midwife or GP.
Breastfeed, if you can. For help and advice, you can speak to your midwife or GP.
Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby.
Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.
Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs or medication that may make you drowsy, or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight.
Avoid letting your baby get too hot. A room temperature of 16-20°C, with light bedding or a lightweight well-fitting baby sleep bag is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies.
More Information for Parents
The Lullaby Trust is a national charity that provides specialist support for bereaved families and promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness on sudden infant death.
For links to download all of The Lullaby Trust free resources and translations of the Easy Read Card into languages other than English, visit The Lullaby Trust publications page on their website.
The Lullaby Trust charity also has its own local group in Suffolk, that fundraises and raises awareness. They have a dedicated ‘befriender’ who can offer support to a family if they sadly experience SIDS. You can read about what the Suffolk Lullaby Trust Group are doing locally on their website.
Our Bereavement Directory also has lots of information about other organisations that can help families if they have experienced a bereavement.
More Information for Professionals
The ICON website provides many useful resources to help people who care for babies to cope with crying: