SafeMotherhood
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SLEEPING

Sleeping safely/cot death

Cot death is something that concerns almost all parents. It's actually quite rare, but sadly it does happen.

In spite of all the research that has been done on the subject, no one really knows what causes cot death. It seems that there isn't one particular cause, but rather a combination of factors which can affect the baby at a vulnerable stage of their development. However, research has shown that taking a few simple precautions can significantly reduce the risk of cot death and help keep your baby safe while asleep.

• Put your baby on their back to sleep.

• Place them in the 'feet-to-foot' position in the cot, with their feet a few centimetres from the end of it.

• Don't allow your baby to get too hot. Use cotton sheets and blankets, not duvets, baby nests or sheepskins. They won't need a pillow or cot bumper. A baby should never sleep with a hot-water bottle or electric blanket; next to a radiator or fire; or in direct warm sunshine. The ideal temperature for a baby's room is about 18° C (65 F). They only need to wear a nappy, vest and sleepsuit.

• Don't smoke, or let anyone else smoke, near your baby and avoid smoky atmospheres. (Avoid smoking and smoky places in pregnancy too.)

• Keep your baby's cot in your room for the first six months.

• Don't sleep on a sofa with your baby.

• Don't let your baby sleep in your bed with you if you smoke, if you've been drinking alcohol or have taken any medication or drugs that make you sleep more heavily.

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