Tag Archives: SIDS

Is it safe to swaddle?

Does swaddling damage babies hips? Does it increase the risk of SIDS? Are there any 21st century benefits to swaddling? Swaddling is an ancient, traditional method of wrapping babies. The blankets or cloths used are tightly wound around the body thus restricting movement, particularly to the limbs. It dates back to around 4000 years ago until becoming unpopular in the 17th century, it appears it is becoming popular again in western civilisations but, some studies have cast doubt on whether it is safe to swaddle or not. Here is the low down:

Does swaddling damage hips?

Professor Nicholas Clarke, an orthopaedic surgeon from Southampton University Hospital, argues that swaddling may damage the development of babies hips. His theory was published in the peer reviewed journal ‘Archives of Disease and Childhood’. His opinion is that swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby) forces the hips into a straightened position where the legs are pressed together, and this he says, may lead to a condition called hip dysplasia.
Dysplasia is not always painful, but can cause joint abnormalities and long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. Severe cases can eventually require hip replacement.

Does it increase the risk of SIDS?

As there are only risk factors for SIDS and not causes, it is difficult for any study to pinpoint one action as reducing the risk. You should create a safe sleeping environment which includes not allowing your baby to overheat, putting him on his back and don’t allow anything to cover his face. Swaddling is a risk factor – it can result in baby overheating, the blanket coming loose and covering her face and may also stop baby’s natural survival reflexes from waking her during the night. If after reading this you still decide you would like to swaddle, you should follow these recommendations:

  • Be aware of the risks, particularly of the use of heavy materials and the risk of the blanket coming loose.
  • NEVER be placed your baby on her stomach when swaddled.
  • If you are going to swaddle, research suggests it is safest to swaddle from birth and not to change bed time practices at 3 months of age, this is when SIDS risk is
  • Always make sure Secondary caregivers (childminders/nannies/nurseries/family members) are aware of your child’s usual sleeping environment and
    practices and they stick to this ie they don’t decide to start swaddling or allowing baby to sleep on her tummy.
  • There has been a lot of research in to the cause of SIDS and as a new parent it is the thing we worry most about. I always like to play on the safe side. I used a fitted sheet, had nothing else in her bed, my baby had a sleeping bag (that fits) and I also had a sensor pad with an alarm. We also co-slept – I always made sure this was made safe and we never slept on the sofa. It can seem like a bit if a minefield but the safest advice is to follow the advice. No one is telling you how to parent, just helping you to make sensible, informed decisions. The more we know about the risks, the better decisions we can make about our babies sleeping environment. The most important new information for me in this post is the advice not to change your little ones sleeping habits at around 3 months of age. This is where the risk of SIDS is at its highest – this may be due to secondary caregivers not being properly informed. I hope you found this post useful.

    Do you swaddle? Were you swaddled as a child? Did you inform your child’s carer of his sleeping habits/environment?

    Resources: NHS

    Create a safe sleeping environment to avoid SIDS

    The risk of SIDS is at its highest between the age of 0-6 months. Here is how you can create a safe sleeping environment to help mitigate against this risk.

    5 steps to sleep safety

  • Always place your baby to sleep on her back – This should be done from day one for both daytime naps and night time sleeps. Putting your little one on her back to sleep will not increase her risk of choking should she vomit. When your child is old enough to roll over, you shouldn’t prevent this. The back to sleep campaign began in 1994 and has seen an incredible reduction in SIDS cases. This is now called the safe to sleep campaign as there are more things we can do:
  • Share rooms for at least the first 6 months – Your baby should always sleep in her own age/size appropriate bed and never in your bed, on a chair or on the sofa. If you opt to co-sleep you must make this as safe as possible too. Is it safe to co-sleep with a newborn?
  • Use a new, firm, correctly fitted mattress – Your baby should have a new mattress that is suited for the exact size of her bed/cot/Moses basket. The general guidance for cots is there should be no more than a 4cm gap between the cot and mattress. You should never use a second hand mattress and when buying, always check it conforms to safety requirements: mattresses should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997. If you are unsure which sized mattress to buy, measure the sleeping area of the bed and take these measurements with you to a reputable shop.
  • Keep soft objects out of your baby’s sleep area – This allows the air to flow around your baby preventing overheating and also ensures there are no suffocation risks. Teddies, pillows, cot bumpers and additional blankets/bedding all fall into this category so keep them out!
  • Don’t let your baby overheat – You should always check the temperature of your baby’s sleep area before dressing her for the night and also re-check her body temperature throughout the night where appropriate. Click here for more information on tog rating and room temperatures.
  • Resources:
    NHS, nichd, Which

    Tog Rating System – duvets for kids

    The tog rating system was designed to describe the thermal resistance of a duvet. This means how much warmth from your body it is able to retain. The higher the tog rating, the more warmth it is able to retain. Traditionally, people would have a summer duvet and a winter duvet but most seem to prefer the all season duvets, these are generally 10.5 tog – 13.5 tog.

    If you have 2 people in your bed, you are likely to need a lower tog duvet (perhaps 10.5) as the heat from 2 people will increase the amount of warmth that the duvet can ‘trap’. If you are bed sharing with your baby then you should never use a duvet, if you are thinking of buying a duvet for your baby, then you need to know the following…

    Can my baby have a duvet?

    Duvets should not be given to children under one year of age, this is because they are unable to kick it off (or slip out if it). If they get too hot they may end up overheating and overheating is considered to be a factor in SIDS cases. If your baby is over one year of age and you would like him to have a duvet, I would recommend buying a hypoallergenic duvet and having at least two 100% cotton covers. Please take note of my advice on which tog duvet to use for children.

    You may prefer baby sleeping bags as there is no risk of your baby slipping under the cover and your baby can’t wriggle out of it, this means that he is less likely to wake up due to feeling a bit cold. Sleeping bags are also helpful if you are staying overnight somewhere as your baby will recognise his own sleeping bag and feel comforted by it.

    What tog duvet is suitable for young children?

    A lighter duvet is recommended for young children because the duvets are able to trap more air around their smaller bodies which results in them feeling warmer than what an adult would. The ideal tog value for duvets for children over one year of age and under 10 is between 3 tog and 9 tog. You can find more information on duvets for children from this duvets for children buying guide

    Is it safe to co-sleep with a newborn?

    co sleeping mum and baby on a white sheet

    Is it safe to co-sleep with a newborn baby? The current advice may be reviewed shortly as new research recently published in the medical journal, BMJ Open, suggests that co-sleeping increases the risk of cot death by as much as 5 times in otherwise healthy babies aged between the age of 0-3 months.

    What is the current advice?

    The current advice on co-sleeping is that you should not share a bed with your baby, particularly if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, it also states that you should never sleep with your baby on a sofa or an armchair.

    “We know that for the first six months of life, the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot, lying on his or her back, in the parents’ room.”

    What do we already know?

    • The causes of cot death are not completely understood.
    • SIDS in the UK occur mainly in more disadvantaged families and in places where smoking, drinking or drug-taking occurs.
    • In the UK, at least 300 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year.
    • In a previous study by the NHS it was found that more than half of the SIDS cases (54%) had been co-sleeping (in a bed or on the sofa) with a parent.
    • There are no official figures that identify the risk associated with co-sleeping where the act of co-sleeping was pre-meditated and in a bed (rather than on the sofa), and the parents did not smoke and were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise).

    What did the new research tell us?

    Professor Bob Carpenter of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine led a research team looking into the risk factors associated with sudden infant death syndrome. The conclusion of this research (which involved the study of 1,472 cases of cot death and 4,679 normal babies) concluded that 81% of cot deaths in babies aged 0-3 months could be avoided if parents were advised not to co-sleep at all. However, it was noted that many of the bed sharing deaths involved at least one parent who:

    • Smoked
    • Was under the influence of alcohol
    • Was taking drugs that may cause drowsiness
    • Was feeling very tired

    Or involved a baby that was:

    • Premature
    • Of a low birth weight

    The view was taken that the NHS should, as a matter of course advise all parents not to co-sleep with their baby between the age of 0-3 months.

    “The current messages saying that bed sharing is dangerous only if you or your partner are smokers, have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs that make you drowsy, are very tired or the baby is premature or of low birth-weight are not effective because many of the bed sharing deaths involve these factors. Doctors, nurses, midwives and health visitors should take a more definite stand against bed sharing, especially for babies under three months. Bringing a baby into bed temporarily to feed or comfort it is acceptable, but only if it is put back into its cot immediately afterwards.”

    Is everyone in agreement with the findings of this study?

    The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) warned against this blanket ban and raised concerns that this could increase the risk of SIDS associated with co-sleeping as parents may end up accidentally co-sleeping, such as falling asleep on the sofa or in bed whilst trying to settle a baby.

    “It could lead to an increased likelihood that a parent or carer inadvertently falls asleep while holding the baby, in a chair or on a sofa, which is much less safe for the infant.”

    Is there a safe way of co-sleeping?

    As the cause of SIDS is unknown, there are only risk factors associated with it which should be considered when making decisions regarding where your baby will sleep. For the first six months of life, the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot, lying on his or her back, in the parents’ room. If you are certain that you would like to co-sleep with your baby then it is recommended that you and your partner meet all of these requirements:

    • You never sleep with your baby on the sofa.
    • Your baby is not bottle fed.
    • You do not smoke.
    • Have not drunk alcohol.
    • Are not taking any drugs or medication.
    • You are not feeling unusually tired.
    • You are both aware that your baby is in bed with you.
    • You are not ill and do not have a condition that may make it difficult for you to respond to your baby.
    • The mattress is not saggy or dipping in places; it needs to be firm, flat and clean.
    • The room is not too warm.
    • You are using sheets and blankets (not quilts/duvets).
    • You do not have a water bed.
    • It is not possible for your baby to fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall.
    • Your bed is big enough for you and your baby.
    • If a sibling is also sharing your bed, there must be an adult between the two children.
    • You do not allow pets to also share the bed.
    • You do not allow your baby to sleep alone in your bed.


    If you require further information, I recommend speaking with your health visitor.

    Do you co-sleep? Were you advised not to? What are your views on this research?

    Baby Room Thermometer Guide

    Room thermometer guide - Compare room thermometers, owl on gro eggA baby room thermometer  is a product that is usually bought in preparation for your baby’s birth but it is never too late to start using one! In my opinion they are as essential as a new mattress and a baby monitor – it helps to ensure a safe sleeping environment and gives you peace of mind in the middle of the night. I would only ever recommend using a digital thermometer, they are much more accurate than analogue ones and protect against tired parents misreading it – particularly in the dark of the night when you are half asleep. Many monitors come with in-built thermometers but they are not always reliable as the heat from the camera can often result in a false high reading.

    If you are thinking of buying a room thermometer for the nursery, you are probably of the same mind set as me and don’t completely trust the cardboard ones that are supplied free with sleeping bags or are available for a few pound, I much prefer a more accurate, digital reading. Here is a list of my favourite baby room thermometers and an easy to read guide to their best bits and links to reviews and instructions

    Compare room thermometers

    Turn your device sideways for a better view.

    Make and ModelDocumentationCurrent Price £% 4/5 Star RatingsOther featuresBatteriesDigital
    Philips AVENT SCH550/20user manual£09.8570%Also a bath thermometer2 x LR44YES
    Brother Max Rayinstructions£09.9973%Also a bath thermometer1 x CR2032 (included)YES
    Thermometer/hygrometerN/A£12.9981%Also a HygrometerYesYES
    Gro-EggInstructions£14.9974%Changes colour to indicate temperatureUK Mains powered adaptor (supplied)YES
    Mebby Mothers TouchN/A£19.9999%Also reads baby's forehead temperature1 x CR2032YES
    Brother Max One Touchusers manual£26.5051%Also reads baby's head and ear temperature2 x AAAYES