Victorian Safe Infant Sleeping Guideline for Professionals Report uri icon


  • Victorian Safe Infant Sleeping Guideline for Professionals SUMMARY OF KEY PROTECTIVE PRACTICES TO COMMUNICATE TO FAMILIES Principles Ensure that every person caring for the baby knows about safe sleep. Plan a safe place, every sleep, whether home or away from home. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side (Evidence level III–2) Prone positioning reduces the baby's ability to arouse and protect their airway. Sleep baby on a flat surface (Evidence level III–2) The sleep surface must be firm, with a well-fitting and clean mattress, flat not tilted. There should be no loose bedding, bumpers, pillows or toys. A baby should never be put down to sleep on a sofa, bean bag, sheepskin or pillow. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered, with no pillows or soft toys (Evidence level III–2) Sleep baby in a one-piece sleep-suit or infant sleeping bag of the correct size that has a fitted neck, and armholes or sleeves, with no hood, hat or bonnet, and nothing else in the cot. If parents use blankets they must be firmly tucked in and the baby should be placed with feet at the foot of the cot so they can’t slip under bedding. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months of life (Evidence level III–2) The safest place at home for a baby to sleep is in a safe cot that meets the Australian Standard with a firm mattress that is the right size for the cot and is not tilted or elevated. Avoid hazardous co-sleeping (Evidence level III–2) Adult sleeping environments may contain hazards that can be fatal for babies. Babies less than twelve weeks of age are especially vulnerable to SUDI when bed-sharing. Carers should never bed-share if they are a smoker or have been drinking alcohol or taking any substance that makes them sleepy. If bed-sharing, carers must ensure there is a firm surface, with no gaps, and that baby is kept away from pillows and doonas. Carers should be specifically warned of the danger of sofa-sharing. Breastfeed your baby (Evidence level III–2) Breastfeeding, even for a short time, can help protect infants from SUDI. Keep the baby away from smoke before and after birth (Evidence level III–2) The risk of SUDI is increased if a baby’s carers are smokers. The risk increases the more the baby is exposed to smoke, even if a caregiver goes outside to smoke. The whole house should be smoke-free — especially the rooms in which the baby might sleep. Alcohol and drug use are risk factors for SUDI (Evidence level III–2) Alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines (both prescribed and ‘over the counter’) may cause the carer to be sleepy, reduce the ability to make safe choices for infant sleeping and increase the risk of SUDI. It’s important that a carer who supervises the baby is not affected by alcohol or other substances. Sleeping safely outside the home is just as important; when travelling use a safe portable cot (Evidence level IV) Car seats are not safe for prolonged periods of sleep and babies should be removed from the seat when the journey is over, even if that means waking them. Any environment in which chin-to-chest positioning can occur is not safe and should be closely supervised; this includes baby slings and carriers, hammocks, infant swings and bouncers.

publication date

  • 2015