SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) used to be called cot death. It means the sudden and unexpected death of a baby from no known cause. SIDS is the most common cause of death in babies between the age of one month to one year. Most babies who die of SIDS are less than 6 months old and more SIDS deaths will occur in winter rather than summer. There is still not a clear answer on exactly what causes SIDS, however some factors can reduce the risk of SIDS.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF SIDS AND SLEEP YOUR BABY SAFELY
Put your baby on his/her back to sleep from birth.
Sleep baby with face uncovered
Never smoke near your baby. If the mother smokes, the risk of SIDS doubles and the father also smokes, the risk doubles again
Put baby’s feet at the bottom of the cot, this won’t allow baby to slip under the blankets
Tuck in bedclothes securely, so bedding is not loose
Do not use quilts, doonas, pillows or cot bumpers
Do not have anything else in the cot except your baby – this means no soft fluffy toys
Co sleeping with your baby in an adult bed may be unsafe if baby gets caught under adult bedding and pillows. If baby becomes trapped between the wall and the bed. If baby falls out of bed or if one of the adults rolls on baby. It is especially dangerous if you are a heavy sleeper or if you are drug or alcohol affected. If you co sleep and also are a smoker the risk of SIDS is further increased.
All new and used cots sold in Australia must meet the Australian standards for cots (AS 2172), and will carry a label stating this.
Old or secondhand cots may be a danger for the following reasons:
* wobbly or broken parts that can make the cot weak
* gaps a toddler or baby can get caught in
* knobs, corner posts or exposed bolts that could hook on to clothing around the neck
* Sides that are too low and can be climbed over by an active toddler
* Sharp catches or holes in the wood that can hurt little fingers
* Paint that may contain poisonous lead
Always check that your baby’s cot meets the Australian standards before use.
Babies can become trapped in a tilted rocking cradle or basinette. If you have a rocking cradle/basinette, ensure that it has a locking pin and make sure you secure the locking pin firmly in place whenever you leave your baby. Double check the cradle/basinette to make sure that it cannot move when you are not there to supervise.
Use the firm well fitting and clean mattres that is supplied with the cot. Don’t be tempted to add additional padding under the mattress as baby can get trapped face down in gaps created between the mattress and the cot wall. There is a seperate Australian standard that is used for all portable cots. The portable cot Australian standars is AS 2195. Portable cots that meet the standard carry a label that states this.
Is the cot mattress the right size for the cot, and is it firm and clean? A baby or toddler can get stuck in gaps between the mattress and the cot sides. This is very dangerous if their face is trapped and covered, or their neck is restricted in any way. Make sure there is no more than a 25 mm gap between the mattress and the cot sides and ends. Remove plastic coverings from the mattress. Ensure that a mattress protector is strong and a tight and secure fit. A pillow or cushion is never a safe mattress as they are soft and may cover baby’s face.
Soft puffy bedding and sheepskins are unnecessary and may potentially cover your baby’s face making breathing difficult.
A SAFE PLACE TO SLEEP
Night and day, be on the lookout for dangers. Things in your home or anywhere else that you may be putting your baby to sleep.
DANGLING CURTAIN CORDS
Keep your baby’s cot away from and cords hanging from blinds, curtains or electrial appliances as they could get caught around baby’s neck.
HEATERS AND ELECTRICAL APPLICANCES
Keep heaters and electrical appliances well away from the cot to avoid the risk of overheating, burns and electrocution. Never use hot water bottles, electric blankets or heated wheat bags for babies or young children. Your baby is unable to escape from a cot to cool down and does not know how to remove bedclothes. An overheated baby is at a greater risk of SIDS. Best not to have a heater on overnight, but if you did no higher than 15 degrees celcius and 18 – 21 degrees during the day.
PRAMS, STROLLERS AND BOUNCERS WHERE RESTRAINTS ARE NOT SECURED
Always secure the restraints when baby is in a pram, stroller, bouncer or any other baby/toddler equipment. It can be dangerous if baby becomes tangled in loose restraints. If restraints are not secured how they are meant to be, they may also be unsafe. Make sure that the footrest on a stroller is strong and secure for your toddler. A weak footrest may give way and cause baby to become trapped.
You can call SIDS and Kids® – Australia wide on 1300 308 307 or visit the SIDS and Kids® website http://www.sidsandkids.org