To understand why safe sleep messaging exists, it helps to go ‘Back to Basics, Back to Baby’…

We want parents, carers and professionals to feel confident when talking about safe sleep. By focusing on how babies breathe and understanding the “why” behind the safe sleep messages, they can make informed decisions to reduce the risks of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

Why should safe sleep messages be followed?

It’s all about keeping baby’s airways clear. This is so important to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation, and SUDI. Remember these three things about a baby:

“My head is big and heavy in proportion to the rest of me”
A baby’s head is 25% of their overall body weight, compared to an adult’s which is only 6%. Imagine you couldn’t lift your own head up! If your baby is sitting in a car seat or a buggy and they fall asleep, their chin will drop down onto their chest and they cannot lift their head back up. This means their airways are kinked, rather than open and clear, which is very dangerous and could lead to accidental suffocation.

“I breathe through my nose”
Babies breathe through their nose, rather than their nose and mouth for the first 3-4 months. It is therefore important that you keep baby’s nose clear so their airways are not blocked. Never cover baby’s nose and mouth because this could cause accidental suffocation. Think about blankets, soft toys, or anything which could cover baby’s nose and mouth, and remove it from their sleep space to reduce this risk.

“My airways are narrow”
Babies have narrow airways, so always be mindful of this and keep them as clear as possible. Do not place objects on or against their chest when sleeping, and make sure their sleep environment is free from smoke or anything which could block, kink or pinch baby’s airways.

Try the tube test
Our resource with the tube attached is a great training tool which you can use to demonstrate to your wider family network and friends. Test their knowledge of Safe Sleep and raise awareness of the importance of Safe Sleep messages by demonstrating how easy it is to kink, block or pinch the little tube that represents baby’s airways. If you would like more information about Safe Sleep and reducing the risks of SUDI, please visit or by following @cotdeathtrust on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.