Prevention of cot death

The precise cause(s) of cot death is (are) uncertain. However it is known that certain risk factors exist and if these can be avoided then the risk to your baby is decreased.

"Back to sleep"

Babies should be put to sleep lying on their backs. In this way the face is clear, the breathing is unobstructed and the baby can respond better to its environment. The baby is not at increased risk from regurgitation when lying in this position.

The bed / cot

The mattress should be relatively firm and be a snug fit with the bed / cot so that no gap between the two exists. The space between the bars on the sides of the bed should not be greater than 8 cm so as to prevent the head from passing through the gap. No pillow should be used. The bed should be clear of anything that could obstruct the face or that could become tangled around the neck. Animals should not be allowed into the baby"s room whilst the baby is sleeping.


The room should not be heated to greater than 200c. The baby can be covered with a sheet and blanket ensuring that the face is kept clear but duvets should be avoided. Sleeping bags can be useful but should be a good fit.


Just as during your pregnancy, you are strongly advised not to smoke following the birth of your baby. In particular you should avoid smoking around your baby both in the house and the car.


Medicines should only be given to your newborn baby on the advice of a doctor. The same applies if you are breastfeeding.

To look out for....

Consult your doctor if

  • Before the age of 6 months your baby has a temperature of more than 380c or less than 360c
  • Your baby is unusually agitated or unresponsive
  • Your baby is sick or refuses to eat
  • Your baby has difficulty breathing, noisy breathing or is pale

More information is available from the UK Department of Health guideline "Reduce the risk of cot death: An easy guide"