SIDS Danger: How Grandparents and Babysitters Are Putting Sleeping Babies At Risk

SIDS. The very mention is enough to strike fear deep into the heart of most parents. And here’s another reason for parents to worry.

According to new research, grandparents and babysitters are putting babies to bed in unsafe sleeping positions. And too many of these babies are dying.

Parents, for the most part, are all over the safe sleeping message. Unfortunately, relatives, babysitters and other caregivers are not. Instead, they are putting babies to sleep on their tummies and often with cuddly friends to keep them company. At least that’s what the results of a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics says this week.

A safe place to snooze

The study reviewed more than 10,000 infant deaths and found that 1,375 happened when a parent wasn’t present. The scariest bit? In a large percentage of those cases, babies had been placed in an unsafe sleep position or an unsafe environment – two of the worst SIDS risk factors,

Friends were the worst offenders. Only 27% has placed the baby to sleep in their designated cot or bassinet. Some babies were left to sleep in car seats, playpens or even bean bags. And only 38.6% made sure baby was on their back in the recommended sleeping position. Relatives didn’t fare much better with 29.4% placing the baby in their own bed to sleep and only 38.4% ensuring that they were sleeping on their back.

mum central

The takeaway? Never assume that the person you’re leaving your child with knows what the safe sleep guidelines recommend. And make sure they know the SIDS risk factors.

Midwives Australia spokeswoman Andrea Quanchi tells Mum Central that while the stats are scary, they should be used to highlight the importance of sharing the safe sleeping message with EVERYBODY who takes care of your child.

“It’s important for people to explain that the latest research shows that sleeping your baby a specific way is safest,” says Andrea. “Don’t assume [your carer] understands the safe sleeping message.”

The safe sleep guidelines

Red Nose Australia (formerly Sids And Kids) are committed to reducing the SIDS rate in Australia from nine deaths per day to zero. They recommend these steps to cut SIDS risk factors and ensure safe sleep for babies:

  • Sleep baby on back
  • Keep head and face uncovered
  • Use a safe baby sleeping bag with fitted neck and armholes and no hood
  • Use a safe cot, fitted and firm mattress and safe bedding
  • No soft surfaces or bulky bedding like pillows, blankets, bumpers and soft toys
  • Sleep baby in a safe cot or bassinet in parents room for the first six to 12 months
  • Breastfeed if possible

For more information about safe sleep and SIDS risk factors, check out our post on the 15 things you should NEVER put in your baby’s cot (and maybe pass it along to your parents/friends/babysitter).

Avatar of Naomi Foxall

Naomi is 3/4 latte drinking, peanut butter obsessed former magazine girl who now does stuff with words for a living while juggling 2.5 kids, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, husband and an unhealthy obsession with slow cooking.

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