It is vital for all parents, carers and service providers to ensure infants are safe when they sleep.
In 2016 in Victoria, there were 23 sudden unexpected deaths in infancy (Department of Health and Human Services 2017).
The safest place for babies to sleep is in their own cot, located in the same room as an adult caregiver, for the first 6–12 months of the infant’s life (Department of Health and Human Services 2017).
Babies should also sleep in a lightweight sleeping bag of the correct size that has a fitted neck, armholes or sleeves and no hood (Department of Health and Human Services 2017).
Factors that contribute to the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy include:
- exposure to smoke (both before and after birth)
- sharing a bed with an adult (especially if the adult is affected by alcohol or drugs)
- an unsafe sleeping environment and/or position (Better Health Channel).
The risk of unexpected death during sleep in infants can be minimised by following safe sleeping guidelines, outlined in:
Department of Health and Human Services 2017, Victoria’s Mothers, Babies and Children 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
Reviewed 24 October 2023