We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

10 Feb 2019

Rates of SIDS rise for first time in three years

We explain how to reduce the risks for your baby.

Deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, formerly known as cot death) have risen in England and Wales for the first time in three years.

In 2016 there were 219 sudden infant deaths, which is the highest number since 2013 when 252 deaths were recorded, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Rise in cases of SIDs in England and Wales

The ONS categorises all instances of sudden, unascertained and unexplained infant deaths as SIDS.

Cases of SIDS have largely been decreasing since 2004.

But in 2016, the most recent available year for data, there was an 11% rise in cases of infant deaths compared with the previous year.

So while cases of SIDS have declined overall over the past decade, infant mortality rates have increased for the second year running in England and Wales.

Find out which cot mattresses we believe could present a smothering risk -don't buy these cot mattresses.

What is SIDS and how to reduce the risk

SIDS is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. It was formerly known as cot death.

It's not known precisely why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason, but there are a number of things that can reduce or increase the risk.

Jenny Ward, acting CEO of The Lullaby Trust, said: 'It is deeply concerning to see a rise in the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in England and Wales.

'The previous downward trend in SIDS deaths has been largely attributed to increased awareness of safer sleep advice, so it is crucial that parents and professionals are made aware of how to reduce the risk.

'We particularly need to increase awareness of safer sleep advice among those who are at an increased risk of SIDS, such as young parents and families living in areas with higher SIDS rates.'

The Lullaby Trust offers guidance about safe sleep.

Make sure you...

  • Always place a baby on his or her back to sleep
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition.

Things to avoid

  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
  • Don't sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot
  • Don't cover your baby's face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding

Read our guide tosafe sleeping: how to reduce the risk of SIDS for your babyfor further advice on the best way to put your little one to sleep.

Sign up for free baby safety alerts plus expert advice and support for parents.

Check your cot mattress

A vital part of safe sleeping is ensuring a safe cot mattress and bed for your baby.

Our tests include a number of key safety and durability tests to make sure that your child's safety won't be compromised.

Read our guide to cot mattress safety for our top tips, and take a look at our Best Buy cot mattresses to see which mattresses sailed through our tests and are safe to buy.