Cot death

Advice on preventing ensuring your baby sleeps safely

It is not clear why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from what is known as ‘cot death’ or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Research has shown that positioning a baby to sleep on their back reduces the risk and that factors such as exposure to cigarette smoke may increase the risk.

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Safe sleeping for your baby

Cot death is rare but you can follow these simple guidelines which are based on research into reducing the risk of cot death or SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome:

  • Baby sleeping bags have been shown to reduce cot death as they keep the baby the right temperature and prevent their head from becoming covered.
  • Ensure your baby’s room is not too hot or too cold 16°C to 20°C is the recommended temperature.
  • Position your baby on their back to sleep 
  • Don’t smoke in the same room as your baby
  • Don’t use a pillow or quilt until your baby is over 12 months old
  • Don’t cover your baby’s head indoors
  • Let your baby sleep in the same room as you for the first six months
  • If your baby shows any signs of being unwell, seek medical advice immediately
  • Be careful about having your baby in bed with you and make sure their head doesn’t get covered by the pillow or duvet
  • Try not to fall asleep with your baby in an armchair or sofa. There is a danger that you might roll on top of her or she could get trapped between your baby and the sofa’s cushions or side.
  • Be particular vigilant about falling asleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs, medication or alcohol.

For more information on sleep, please visit the NHS Choices or Netmums website. 

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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