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Sleep, Health, Safety

There are several ways in which a baby's sleep affects their own health and that of their parents. The links in the left-hand navigation provide further information on these issues.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, or cot death) is perhaps the most well known of these, but sleep related accidental deaths and injuries also happen, and non-accidental harm can occur to infants in sleep-related settings. Lack of sleep related to caring for a baby can also affect parents' health, particularly in the case of depression and accidents.

SIDS is the name given to the unexpected death of an infant for which there is no known cause. Such deaths commonly occur during sleep and can happen wherever babies sleep. No sleep environment is 100% risk-free, however there are well known ways to reduce a baby's risk of SIDS. This information is provided to all UK parents in the Dept of Health leaflet 'Reduce the risk of cot death'.

Guidance on reducing the risk of SIDS also covers keeping babies safe from sleep-related accidents. Accidents can occur wherever babies sleep, and parents need to be aware of their baby's sleep environment. See SIDS & Safety for more information.

Babies can also be at risk when tiredness and frustration spill over into anger in situations where carers are sleep-deprived and/or infants cry inconsolably. Many parents experience momentary feelings of helplessness and desperation, especially when trying to cope alone. We provide links to strategies for coping and sources of help and support.

For additional information on all these topics, see the health professionals section.

Last modified: 30th August 2013