New guidelines on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have been released this weekend — a must-read for all new parents and those who care for babies.
Experts from the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have updated the advice to minimise the risk of SIDS among young babies.
Also referred to as “cot death,” SIDS is used to describe a case where a child under the age of one dies suddenly and of no known cause.
One reason for the update is to help clarify the link between co-sleeping and SIDS, says the Manchester Evening Standard.
So what do the new guidelines advise? Five main areas are addressed: smoking e-cigarettes around babies, time spent in car seats, the use of baby slings, the safety of co-sleeping twins and parent and baby co-sleeping.
Until the findings of detailed research are available, e-cigarettes should be treated exactly the same as ordinary cigarettes, meaning parents are advised not to smoke around their babies. NICE also recommends that parents who smoke do not co-sleep with their babies.
NICE advises parents to remove babies from car seats as soon as possible after a car journey and to take regular breaks during long car journeys to give the infant time out of the seat. The same advice applies to travel systems to ensure the baby doesn’t spend too long in a semi-upright position.
Baby sling-wearing parents should make sure the sling is positioned securely, that they can always see the baby’s face when glancing downwards and are able to kiss the baby’s head when tipping their head forward. The child should never be curled up so much that their chin is forced into their chest as this can restrict their breathing.
Twins who sleep together should be placed side by side and not close enough to touch so that they cannot roll on top of each other.
Parent and baby co-sleeping
The NICE guidelines advise midwives, health visitors and GPs to recognise that parent and baby co-sleeping can be intentional or non-intentional and to discuss the issue with all parents.
The updated recommendations now cover the first 12 months of a child’s life, as opposed to eight weeks after birth, and say that healthcare professionals should inform parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS is likely to be greater when they, or their partner, smoke and that the association may be greater with alcohol consumption, drug use, or low birthweight and premature infants.
Read the full NICE guidelines on co-sleeping safely with your baby.