There is nothing more terrifying for a parent than the thought that something may happen to their baby when they aren't around to protect them – which might be why you're hovering over Junior's cot for hours even after he's dropped off. While there isn't much to be done in many of these cases (and most parents will tell you that paranoia never quite goes away!) there are precautions you can take, and ways of helping your baby sleep safely.

5 tips for a safe sleeping environment

  1. Sleep your baby on their back from birth.
  2. Make sure their face is uncovered when they're sleeping, and that there are no doonas, pillows, lambs' wool, bumpers or soft toys in the cot.
  3. Avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke before and after birth. Babies exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk of SIDS.
  4. Provide your baby with a safe sleeping environment (a safe cot, mattress and bedding).
  5. For the first six to 12 months, keep the cot in your room so you can easily check your baby is safe. But don't share your bed with your baby; there's a risk to the baby from slipping under the bedding, getting too hot, being trapped between a parent and a wall, or being rolled on.

SIDS on the decline

The number of SIDS cases, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (also known as cot death), where a baby dies unexpectedly from no known cause, is on the decline. That's probably because some of the causes are now understood and well-publicised. Make sure you follow the tips at SIDS and Kids to ensure your baby is as safe as possible.