What is sudden infant death?
This is when an infant dies suddenly in his/her bed without an obvious cause. It happens rarely, but is the most frequent cause of death in previously healthy term infants. The causes are unknown. Most cases happen to babies 2-5 months old.
What can I do in order to reduce the risk of sudden death?
- Put the baby to bed on her back. All other sleeping positions increase the risk. The baby is not in danger of choking if placed on her back. From 5-6 months and onwards she can sleep in any position she likes.
- Don’t use a pillow.
- Cover the baby with a thin blanket or use a special sleeping bag for babies.
- Cover her only up to the shoulders.
- The baby’s feet should barely touch the end of the bed. This way they can’t slip under the blanket.
- The room temperature should not be higher than 20-22 degrees C.
- The baby should not be dressed over- warmly.
- Place the baby’s bed in your room for the first 6 months. If it is in another room, the risk of sudden death increases.
- Don’t sleep in the same bed or on a couch with the baby.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy.
- Don’t smoke when your baby is born.
- Breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
- Visit your paediatrician if your baby has a cold or is not well.
Enjoy your baby.
Sudden death is rare. Don’t let your concern about sudden death spoil how you feel about your baby and your enjoyment of her. However, for safety reasons, you should apply the above measures.
Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010