Preventing SIDS? Reduce the risk!
Latest update: September 19, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Sadly, preventing SIDS completely is not
There is no cure or
vaccine to prevent crib death. But you can reduce the
risk as much as possible by following a few simple rules,
especially during the first 12 months. Follow the
guidelines as much
for naps as for night time sleep.
4 simple gestures to protect your baby
- No smoking
sleeps on her back
- Baby never gets too hot
sleeps in a safe crib, under close supervision or co-sleeps safely
These are the simplest and most effective ways to protect your child.
They are the best chance we have for preventing SIDS.
See below for
details and further
How do we know these guidelines help? In the late 80s-early 90s, many
governments launched Back
to Sleep campaigns to recommend these precautions, and the
sleeping on the back position in particular.
SIDS rates reduced dramatically in the following years so the
guidelines remain recommended worldwide.
Guidelines to help prevent SIDS and tips to make them work
1. No smoking
There is a dramatic relationship between smoking
Do not smoke
during pregnancy and do not let anyone smoke near your baby or in any
room where your baby stays.
sleeps on her back
The only safe sleeping
position is lying on the back.
your little one on her back
when you put her to sleep, nap time, snooze time and night time.
3. Baby must
never get too hot
overheating: keep the room
temperature between 61 and 68 degrees F (16-20ºC). During hot summer nights: compensate with
extra light clothing and cover.
Choose light clothing
and covers: a light sleeping bag is ideal. It helps keep
your child on her back, she will not get uncovered and cold and
cannot get trapped under it.
If you use a blanket, tuck it in tight and position your child with
to the bed foot-end so she cannot slide under the cover.
in a safe crib, under close supervision
safety is a very important step towards preventing SIDS.
Ideally during the first months, keep your baby in the room with you.
by itself is proven to improve protection.
Many parents find that their movement easily wakes up their little one
about 4 to 6 months.
When that happens, and you feel confident about
your baby's development, and there are none of the SIDS risk factors playing,
you can have her sleep in another room.
check frequently on her and ensure you can monitor as well as if you were in the same room.
The 2016 updated recommendations for safe infant sleeping environment
by the AAP advise that a baby sleeps in her parent's room ideally for
the full first year, and at least for the first 6 months.
... or co-sleeps safely
still disadvised officially by many institutions, although
given studies state
that in certain circumstances, co-sleeping
can offer protection from
Always duly follow all co-sleeping
According to latest research, safe
co-sleeping does not increase the risk.
However, when either
parent smokes, drinks alcohol, takes medication or is extremely tired,
co-sleeping is not safe and is an increased risk factor.
Also if your baby is
premature or light-weight you'd rather avoid bed sharing.
(a cot attached to your bedside) can be a good alternative.
occurred when babies were sleeping on the couch or sofa with their
5. Using a dummy
pacifier or dummy
has been shown to reduce SIDS risk.
Since dummy-use may interfere with breastfeeding (another protector
from SIDS) it is best to wait until breastfeeding is well established
before offering a dummy to your baby.
Breastfeeding your baby can offer increased protection from crib death.
7. Don't force sleep
make your small child sleep longer or better by over-feeding or with
go into too deep sleep and be at risk of cot death.
Don't allow these pages to make you anxious.
Just keep the guidelines for preventing SIDS in mind, consult a medical professional to assess your baby, be extra
careful when your
baby is at a higher
risk, and then have confidence in your instincts.
trends in sudden infant death syndrome Hauck RF,
Tanabe KO. 2008. Pediatrics 122(3):
 The Lullabytrust - Rates of SIDS reach new record low but The Lullaby Trust warns against complacency Available from https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/ons-2015/
(opens in new window).
cosleeping: the appropriate context for the study of infant sleep and
implications for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) research
Sarah Mosko, James Mckenna, Lynn Hunt 2004 Journal of
Behavioral Medicine 16 (6): 589–610.
 Hazardous cosleeping
environments and risk factors amenable to change: case-control study of
SIDS in South West England. Peter S. Blair and
(opens in new window)
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant
Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping
Environment. TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH
(opens in new window)