As the parent of a young baby, it is natural to worry about your child’s health. A particular concern for many mums and dads is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is also sometimes referred to as cot death. The good news is that SIDS happens very rarely and this is partly due to the ongoing research and educational programmes that have done such as great job over the last few years in identifying the causes of SIDS and in getting practical advice out to new parents. Some of the key risk factors that studies have identified include:
Experts advise the safest place for babies to sleep is on their backs in a cot, in the same room as their parents. It is best to avoid sleeping with your baby in your bed, particularly if you are very tired or have been drinking alcohol.
Blankets and sheets can cover a baby’s head if the baby wriggles down under their bedding, or if the bedding comes loose in the night. Similarly, other unnecessary items in the cot, such as cot bumpers, pillows and toys can increase the risk of smothering.
Smoking around new babies increases the risk of cot death and should be avoided.
Babies can’t control their body temperature as well as adults, and using too many blankets can cause them to over-heat. The ideal room temperature for a sleeping baby is about 18 degrees centigrade. To help to maintain this temperature, do not set the central heating too high, and avoid placing hot water bottles and electric blankets in your baby’s cot.
Happily, it’s easy to put this advice into practice by making a few simple changes. Baby sleeping bags can help to keep babies safe too. In a sleeping bag, your baby can wriggle about as much as she likes without accidentally covering her head. Furthermore, a sleeping bag promotesa stable body temperature, and you can use different weight sleeping bags at different times of the year to ensure that baby remains safe and cosy at all times, neither too hot nor too cold. A grow bag can also help to ensure that your baby remains on his back because the bag makes it harder for him to roll over.
When choosing a sleeping bag for your baby, you need to make sure that you get the right weight and size. The weight or thickness of a sleeping bag is indicated by its tog value; the higher the tog value, the thicker the bag. The general rule here is that you should use thinner sleeping bags in the summer and thicker ones in the winter. You can find more information which sleeping bag weight to choose at which temperature here.
Remember too that the clothes that your baby wears will affect their body temperature, find a guide what baby should wear in his baby sleep sack here. Do not use blankets with sleeping bags because this might make baby too hot, and use a thermometer to check that the room is the right temperature.
As well as the choosing the right sleeping bag weight, you should take care to select the right size sleeping bag for your child. If the bag is too large, your baby can slip into it and their head might become covered. Additionally, babies in sleeping bags that are too big will lose bodyheat more quickly. On the other hand, a bag that is too small will be uncomfortable and might restrict movement too much, which will lead to restlessness and less sleep for both baby and parents! Slumbersac sleeping bags are available in six different sizes, and are suitable from birth to six to ten years old.
For more information on sizing, see our detailed size chart.
For further reading on reducing the risk of cot death, see the information on the Department of Health Website.