Sleep marks the very first separation from our babies. Like most parents, I well recall tiptoeing into the nursery to check on my little one’s breathing when they were sleeping soundly. Without question the worst fear of any parent is the fear that their baby dies whilst asleep – commonly known as cot death or SIDS.
Millions is spent annually on SIDS research and while the jury is still out on exactly what causes a baby to die in its sleep, we do know what the heightened risk factors are. Co-sleeping, especially on a soft surface, such as a couch or if a parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol significantly increase the risk of death. A baby sleeping on her tummy likewise increases the risk considerably. Smoking whilst pregnant and exposure to cigarette smoke is also seen as a risk factor.
These are a few sleep safety tips that should not be ignored:
- Do not use blankets, loose bedding or soft objects in your baby’s crib. Soft materials or objects such as pillows, quilts, comforters, or sheepskins should not be placed in the crib whilst your baby is sleeping.
- Place your baby on her back or side to sleep. If you place your baby on her side, use a wedge to ensure she cannot roll onto her tummy.
- A separate but close sleeping environment is recommended: The risk of SIDS has been shown to be reduced when babies sleep in a separate cot/crib, in the same room as parents to allow for more convenient breastfeeding and contact.
- Avoid overheating your baby by keeping the bedroom temperature comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. 21 degrees is the perfect temperature for your baby’s room
- Use a dummy – for some reason, babies who suck dummies have a lowered risk of cot death.