Keeping your baby’s head and face uncovered during sleep reduces the risk of sudden and unexpected death, including SIDS.
“This is because it reduces the risk of suffocation from head coverings slipping down over your baby’s face,” explains Dr Bec Thornton, Red Nose’s National Health Promotion Manager.
This includes removing bonnets, beanies, hats, hoodies or hooded clothing for sleep.
And, did you know your baby regulates their temperature through their face and head?
“Research has linked the risks of SIDS to overheating, and overheating can be caused by room heating, high body temperature, and excessive clothing or bedding,” Dr Bec says.
“Placing your baby on their back and keeping their head and face uncovered for sleep has been shown in the research to be protective against overheating and suffocation, and therefore reduces the risk of SIDS.”
You can reduce the risk of bedding accidentally covering the head and face, by making sure baby’s feet are at the bottom of the cot so they can’t wriggle and slip down under the blankets.
Or, Dr Bec says, you may decide to not use blankets at all, and instead, use a safe sleeping bag.
“If using a sleep bag, make sure it is one with a fitted neck and arm holes, arms free and no hood,” Dr Bec says.
When putting your baby to sleep, check that:
- Your baby’s feet are positioned at the bottom of the cot
- Bedclothes are at the level of the chest and tucked in securely, so bedding is not loose, or alternatively, place your baby in a safe sleeping bag. If using a sleep bag, you don’t need blankets or sheets
- Head coverings are removed before a baby is put down for their sleep
- There are no doonas, quilts, loose bedding or fabric, pillows, lambs’ wool, bumpers or soft toys* in the cot. *Soft toys should not be added to the cot until the baby is at least 7 months old”
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