In Infants and Children under the age of two years

Always follow the SIDS and Kids Safe Sleeping recommendations for positioning your infant for sleep.

The Red Nose Foundation (Previously known as SIDS and Kids’) information statement ‘Reflux – Sleeping position for babies with Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux (GOR)’ can be found here.

To sleep them safely and reduce the risk of sudden infant death:

  • Sleep your infant on their back from birth; never on their tummy or side.
  • Sleep your infant with their head and face uncovered.
  • Avoid exposing your infant to cigarette smoke, before and after birth.
  • Sleep your infant in their own cot or bassinette in the same room as you for their first six to twelve months.
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment, night and day: safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding and safe sleeping place.
    • Put your infant’s feet at the bottom of the cot.
    • The cot must meet the Australian standard for cots.
    • No additional mattresses or extra padding should be placed in a travel cot.
    • Tuck in bedclothes securely so bedding is not loose.
    • Keep quilts, doonas, duvets, pillows, cot bumpers, sheepskins and soft toys out of the cot or sleeping place.
    • Use a firm, clean mattress that fits snugly in the cot.
    • Bouncinettes, hammocks, prams and strollers have not been designed as sleeping products and your infant should not be left unsupervised if they fall asleep in them

Never leave your infant unattended or sleeping unsupervised in devices such as swings, hammocks, chairs, wedges and bouncinettes. These devices were not designed as infant sleep environments and many do not have Australian safety standards. Fatal accidents have occurred.

You may be concerned about sleeping your infant on their back; however, this position does not increase their risk of breathing in or choking on their milk or vomit. Infants with reflux should be placed on their back to sleep on a firm, flat mattress that is not elevated. Healthy infants protect their airway when placed supine (on their back), as long as their swallowing and arousal abilities are not impaired.

Side positioning is unstable and not recommended as an alternative to sleeping your infant on their back. Aids and devices intended to keep infants in certain sleep positions are not recommended; they do not prevent your infant from rolling onto their tummy (prone), and they limit their movements as they get older.

As infants grow older, beyond the age of five to six months, a safe cot and safe sleep environment is still necessary even though they will move around the cot and roll over. Settle your infant to sleep on their back, but let them find the sleep position they feel most comfortable in.

Parents of some infants with a rare medical condition may be advised by their doctor to sleep them on their left side or tummy, but only do so if your infant’s doctor advises you in writing.

“Positioning for Sleep” was written by Professor (Adjunct) Jeanine Young, Nursing Director – Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane. Article from “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families” by Glenda Blanch in association with Reflux Infants Support Association Inc. Reprinted with permission of Professor (Adj) Jeanine Young and Michelle Anderson Publishing

The recommendations in ‘Positioning for Sleep’ in infants and children under the age of two years are used with permission from the Queensland Health: Safe Infant Care to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy Policy and Guidelines (2008) which is consistent with SIDS and Kids (2010) and the Public Health Association of Australia (2008) guidelines.

Professor (Adjunct) Jeanine Young, FRCNA, PhD BSc (Hons) Adv Diploma Nursing, RGN EM Neonatal Nurse, Nursing Director – Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health Services, Queensland Health. Adjunct Professor, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Adjunct AProfessor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queensland University of Technology, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Queensland, Centre for On-line Health