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Safety Baby Sleep and Sids


SIDS is short for ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ and used to be called‘cot death’. It means the sudden, unexpected death of a baby from no known cause. SIDS is the most common cause of death in babies between one month and one year of age. Most babies who die of SIDS are under six months. More babies die of SIDS in winter than in summer.

It is still not clear what causes SIDS. Some factors are thought to work together to reduce the risk of SIDS, but they may or may not help prevent any one SIDS death. Remember, 1999 out of 2000 babies will not die of SIDS.

How to sleep baby safely:

  • Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
  • Sleep baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, lambs wool, bumpers or soft toys)
  • Avoid exposing babies to tobacco smoke before birth and after
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding)
  • Put baby’s feet at the bottom of the cot
  • Tuck in bed clothes securely so bedding is not loose
  • Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping environment next to the parent’s bed for the first six to twelve months of life
  • Remove all toys, pillows and cushions from the cot/bassinet before putting baby to sleep
  • Quilts, doonas, duvets, and bumpers are not recommended for babies under 12 months of age


Principles of Safe Wrapping:

  • Ensure that baby is positioned on the back with the feet at the bottom of the cot.
  • Ensure that baby is wrapped from below the neck to avoid covering the face.
  • Sleep baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, cot bumpers, lambs wool or soft toys in the sleeping environment).
  • Use only lightweight wraps such as cotton or muslin (bunny rugs and blankets are not safe alternatives as they may cause overheating)
  • The wrap should not be too tight and must allow for hip and chest wall movement
  • Make sure that baby is not over dressed under the wrap. Use only a nappy and singlet in warmer weather and add a lightweight grow suit in cooler weather.
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding).
  • Babies must not be wrapped if sharing a sleep surface (including bed-sharing) with an adult. Sharing a sleep surface with a baby can be hazardous in certain circumstances. See SIDS and Kids information statement ‘Sleeping with a baby’ for advice about sharing a sleep surface with a baby.
  • Modify the wrap to meet the baby’s developmental changes, eg. arms free once ‘startle’ reflex begins to disappear at around 3 months; (Moro or ‘startle’ reflex should have disappeared by 4-5 months).
  • When baby is able to roll from their back to their tummy and then onto their back again during supervised play (usually 4-6 months) the use of a wrap can be discontinued for settling and sleep. The wrap may prevent an older baby who has turned onto their tummy during sleep from returning to the back sleeping position.
  • An alternative to wrapping is to use a safe infant sleeping bag; one with a fitted neck and armholes that is the right size for the baby’s weight. Clothing can be layered underneath the sleeping bag according to climate conditions. There is some evidence that sleeping bags may assist in reducing the incidence of SIDS11, possibly because they delay the baby rolling into the tummy position and eliminate the need for bedding. It is important to encourage tummy time to play when the baby is awake and supervised by an adult, but babies must not be allowed to sleep in the tummy position.

For further information visit the SIDS and Kids website at www.sidsandkids.org or phone SIDS and Kids in your State or Territory on 1300 308 307



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