Initiative for precautions against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

The following information is kindly provided by MAM Baby

Dear Parents,

SIDS is a cause of worry for many parents. Between social taboos and downright fateful occurrences, it seems unexplainable and practically mythical to parents.The information in this article was kindly provided by SIDS Austria who have been dealing with this topic since 1986 to support affected families and provide information to prevent avoidable cases.

Thanks to intensive research, we know today more than ever that SIDS is usually the result of a tragic chain of various factors. This knowledge, as well as observing preventive measures, offers the chance to break this chain. Fortunately, through increased awareness and preventive measures, the frequency of SIDS has been reduced over the last 25 years to a fraction of what it once was.

With this article we hope to boost your knowledge and confidence so you can genuinely enjoy – without unnecessary fear – the time together with your baby.


Children with a higher risk of SIDS are:

  • Premature babies with complications during pregnancy
  • Children with a low birth weight
  • Babies with health problems during their first weeks
  • Children who were exposed to nicotine, alcohol or drugs during pregnancy
  • Babies from a family in which a child has previously died from SIDS
  • Children with previous life-threatening events or after an incident of lifelessness
  • Recommended Precautionary Measures

Around the world SIDS is researched extensively, which constantly brings new scientific findings. For example, the correct recommended sleeping position has changed several times over the past few years. The following measures reflect the latest scientific findings and should be followed to keep your child’s risk as low as possible.

Children should always be put in bed lying on their back for sleeping. Front and side positions increase the risk of SIDS. Children should sleep in suitable baby sleeping bags. These must always be the correct size for the child. Do not use blankets as they may slide over the face.

Use a firm, breathable mattress in good condition and do not place any plastic liners between the sheet and mattress.

Babies should sleep in the parents’ bedroom, but in their own cot, which should have a duckboard. Do not place cots in front of radiators or windows.

In the cot: no lambskin, no nests and pillows and no fluffy animals.

The temperature in the bedroom should remain between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.

The baby‘s clothing should be suitable for the temperature of the surroundings. Parents tend to dress their children too warmly. In the sleeping bag a body stocking or thin pyjamas are sufficient – no socks, no hats, etc. The higher the surrounding temperature, the less the baby should wear.

Babies should not be left alone. Stress caused by being alone, restlessness and emotional tensions are risk factors for SIDS.

When possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed during the first months of life. If your baby is not breastfed, you should choose formula milk according to age and offer the baby sufficient physical contact.

Smoking during pregnancy and in the baby‘s environment is to be absolutely avoided. Every cigarette not consumed by mother and child (actively and passively) reduces the risk of SIDS. Newborns who were exposed to nicotine during pregnancy are very often underdeveloped and have a lower birth weight.

If you have chosen to give your baby a soother, you should use it every time your baby goes to sleep during the first year of life. Soothers should only be used after breastfeeding is fully established. There are, however, babies who will not accept a soother. Particular attention should then be paid to the other preventive measures.

Go to your regular maternity passport check-ups.

SIDS Precautions Test

Answer the following questions to the best of your knowledge. Perhaps you will find some things you can change in order to reduce your child‘s risk of SIDS.

1. Which sleeping position is best for your child?

2. Does anyone smoke in your home or in the presence of your baby?

3. Where does your baby sleep and what is the room temperature?

4. Do you breastfeed or plan to breastfeed your baby?

5. What does your baby‘s cot look like?

6. What does your baby wear for sleeping? How do you cover your baby?

7. Does your baby take a soother or are you intending to give your baby a soother?

Recommended SIDS Precautions

Here you will find the recommended measures for the individual questions. By carefully following them you can reduce your child’s risk to a minimum. For questions and details contact your paediatrician or a SIDS clinic in your area. You can also take this test with you on your next visit and discuss it with your paediatrician.

1. Your baby must sleep in the supine position as long as it cannot turn around by itself.

Sleeping on the side is not stable enough and the prone position is a major risk for SIDS. While awake though, you should let your baby lay on its tummy as long as you are right there.

2. Never smoke in your baby‘s sleeping area.

Smoking during pregnancy also has negative effects on the development of your baby. Children from families who smoke have a higher risk of dying from SIDS. You should also avoid “bringing” nicotine in your clothes or hair into the baby’s environment. Every cigarette not consumed actively and passively by mother and child reduces the risk of SIDS.

3. Babies should sleep in their parents’ bedroom, but in their own cot.

The crib should not be placed next to a window or radiator. Room temperature should be between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius. Over- heating increases the risk of SIDS.

4. When possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first four to six months of life.

Breast milk is the best for your child, prevents allergies and provides plenty of physical contact. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS. If your baby is not breastfed, you should choose formula milk according to age and offer the baby lots of physical contact.

5. The cot should have a firm, breathable mattress in good condition.

Do not put pillows or stuffed animals in the cot. Nests around the cot bars should not be used as they could cover your baby’s face and prevent it from breathing freely. Do not use a plastic liner between the sheet and mattress – this might overheat the baby. Moleton sheets are recommended for protecting the mattress. The cot should have duckboards.

6. You should use a proper size baby sleeping bag from the beginning instead of a blanket.

Your baby should wear light clothes inside the sleeping bag – a body stocking or light pyjamas are enough. There are sleeping bags in different materials for both summer and winter. Be sure to avoid overheating your baby. The higher the surrounding temperature, the lighter the sleeping bags and clothing required.

7. Scientific studies have shown that using a soother when going to sleep can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.

If parents decide to use a soother, they should give their babies an orthodontic soother suitable for their age every time they put them to sleep. Soothers should, however, only be used after breastfeeding is fully established (normally at the end of the first month of life).

Unfortunately, there will always be cases of SIDS that cannot be prevented despite all of these measures. However, by following the precaution measures above you can take destiny in your hands and reduce the risk for your child to a minimum.

For any unanswered questions please consult your paediatrician or medical expert.

If you would like further information regarding SIDS or have any other queries then please contact MAM Baby on Facebook.


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Category:Baby Basics

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