In rare cases, sudden infant death syndrome can occur in the first year of life during sleep. Luckily, effective prevention is available: the right sleeping environment. Simple measures help reduce the risk for your baby to a minimum. The following recommendations are scientifically confirmed and have proven to be successful in practice.
Safe sleep for your baby
Sleeping on the back
From day one, babies should always sleep on their backs – even during daytime. This is the most important preventive measure for safe sleep and lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by 50%.
If you are worried that your baby may swallow vomited food or even suffocate from it, you can rest assured. Experts say this fear is completely unfounded, but, unfortunately, often stands in the way of a safe sleeping position.
When your baby is awake and active, the baby should be put on his/her stomach so that they can train their back muscles. Later on, when your baby is able to turn on their tummy on their own to sleep, you can leave them sleeping in that position.
Baby sleeping bag instead of blanket
A suitable baby sleeping bag cannot be kicked off or pulled over the head.
For the correct length of sleeping bags, the rule is body length minus head length plus 10-15cm. The neck opening must not be larger than the head girth. There are special sleeping bags available for newborn babies.
Protection from overheating
Babies like to be cool while sleeping. You should only turn the heating on if the room temperature drops below 18°C. Do not put the cot near the heating or in the sun. The hands and feet of your baby may be cool; however this does not mean that they feel cold.
All your baby needs to sleep is a diaper, a bodysuit, pajamas and the sleeping bag. If the room temperature is high, they need even less. If your baby sweats around the neck, the room is too warm. Do not put a hat on when they sleep, as babies get rid of extra heat through their heads. Items like hot water bottles, heated blankets, sheep fleece and similar items do not belong in a cot.
Cigarette smoke is harmful
Smoking near babies increases the risk of illnesses as well as the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Please avoid smoking during pregnancy and during the first year. The living area should be smoke-free, especially so for the room where the baby sleeps.
Separate cot in the parents' bedroom
In the first year, the baby should sleep in his/her won bed in your bedroom. The sound of your breathing has a positive effect on the regulation of your baby’s breathing.
Furnishings for the cot:
- an air-permeable mattress of moderate hardness
- no pillow
- no fur, soft pillowing (nest) or cuddly toys
Breastfeeding is healthy
Breastfed children have a reduced risk of sudden infant death. If possible, you should breastfeed your baby for 4 – 6 months. This strengthens you baby’s body and immune system.