Babies spend a lot of time sleeping and it is important to think about how you keep your baby safe from Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI).
SUDI can be a frightening topic for new parents to think about. However it is important to understand the facts and the things that you can do to help reduce the risks of SUDI.
SUDI, also known as SIDS (Sudden infant death) and as cot death is defined as the sudden and unexplained death of an infant during sleep, including deaths from suffocation, less than one year of age.
SIDS is responsible for between 40 – 50 deaths in New Zealand per year.
Over the years health professionals’ have increased their understanding of SUDI and the risk factors for babies. It is encouraging that this has helped to reduce the numbers of deaths from SUDI in New Zealand.
All babies in all cultures and times need these 6 conditions to protect them from SUDI.
The babies that are safest from SUDI have all 6 factors present.
If you want your baby to sleep in bed with you it’s important you know that bed sharing does increase the risk of SUDI. If you do plan to share your bed with your baby it’s important to plan this from the start of the pregnancy.
If you share a bed with your baby remember that it’s even more important to:
It is harder to control safety when a baby shares a bed with others so also remember to ensure that:
The risks of bed sharing are greater for premature and low birth weight babies and those who have been exposed to smoke. Most babies who die of SUDI share a bed with others, and have been exposed to smoke during pregnancy and after birth.
Sleeping babies need to breathe. Air needs to get through to their lungs. Babies can roll face down on soft surfaces. They can get wedged against things on couches or chairs. Their faces can become covered by toys, pillows or bedding. They can be rolled on by people in the same bed.
Too many babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly are in these unsafe sleeping situations. Parents need to check for hazards, wherever their baby sleeps.
Hazards are more likely to be present in shared and/or makeshift sleeping situations such as couches and chairs. Parents need to be sure that their baby’s face will stay clear and uncovered throughout sleep.
Sudden Infant Death used to be a mystery, but thanks to research, we now know a lot more about risk factors and how to keep babies safe. There are three risk factors for Sudden Infant Death which, when they converge, put babies at most risk. Find out what these are and listen to advice from experts on the Raising Children In New Zealand website.