Scottish Cot Death Trust

Does breastfeeding protect my baby from Cot Death?

Breastfeeding is the very best way to feed your baby and will help protect him from infection. However, there is no evidence from UK studies that it actually reduces the risk of Cot Death.

Does having my baby immunised increase the risk of Cot Death?

No. Research indicates that babies who have been vaccinated are at lower, not higher, risk of Cot Death.

Is it dangerous for our baby to sleep in our bed?

Sleeping with your baby should be avoided if you or your partner smoke, have consumed alcohol, have taken drugs or medication which may make you sleep more heavily, or if you are very tired. The safest place for a baby to sleep is in his/her own crib or cot, in the parents’ room.

Do I need a new mattress for each baby?

Two research studies carried out by The Scottish Cot Death Trust have shown an increased risk of Cot Death for babies sleeping on a mattress previously used by another baby. The risk was very small if the other baby was an older brother or sister in the same family but higher if the mattress was second-hand from another home. More research is continuing on this subject but meantime you may choose to avoid any potential risk by buying a new mattress. Otherwise, make sure the mattress is very clean, dry and in good condition. It’s best to choose one which is totally covered with plastic which can be easily be washed down.

Should the baby sleep in his/her own room or our bedroom?

Recent research suggests that having the baby’s crib or cot in the parents’ room for the first six months is protective against sudden infant death. If you don’t have room for this, have the baby in the next room and make sure both doors are open.

Can I take my baby in an aeroplane?

Several years ago there was a suggestion that babies might be at increased risk of sudden infant death if they had been on a long plane journey, because of the different oxygen levels in an aircraft. However, there is no evidence of a higher incidence of Cot Death in babies who have been travelling in planes.

My baby keeps turning onto his tummy in bed – what should I do?

As babies mature, some will choose to sleep on their tummies. There is nothing parents can do to prevent this and there is no point in getting up constantly during the night to move the baby onto his back. However, always put him on his back when you put him in his cot. Keep in mind that the peak age of Cot Death is 4-12 weeks and that, by the time most babies are able to roll over, they are past this high-risk period.


In the weeks and months following your baby’s death it can sometimes be helpful to speak to another parent who has suffered a similar tragedy in the past. The Trust has a network of Befrienders who are willing to contact newly bereaved parents and provide support.

If you would like to become one of our Befrienders, please email us and we can tell you when our next training day is.

Buy our Forget-me-not pin and help fight Cot Death

You can make a real contribution to the fight against Cot Death by ordering our beautiful lapel pin.

We’re selling these pins at a cost of £1 each, to raise funds for research into the causes of cot death. We know that the babies who died are never forgotten by the families who loved them.

Download our order form here.

About Grief

Losing a child is perhaps the most painful experience any parent can have. When the loss is without warning or explanation, it is even more unbearable. The immediate reaction of parents to such a death is total shock. Feelings of denial, unreality and numbness are common and parents often feel they are living in a nightmare from which they will wake up.

Grief is a very personal emotion and everyone will experience it differently. There are many different emotional responses – sadness, anger, fear, blame, despair and guilt are all common and some of these may last for years. Some people find it helpful to go over the events leading up to the death again and again, finding that it eases the pain to talk in this way. Others find no comfort from this and shut themselves off in their own world of grief. Parents will grieve differently and may find that they are unable to provide much support for each other. It can be very helpful to share what they are feeling with someone outside the family such as their doctor or social worker.

Some of the physical manifestations of grief can be very hard – nausea, pain in the chest and arms, exhaustion. The bereaved person may also fear that they are losing their mind. All these are normal parts of the grief process.

Grief is not something which can be measured in terms of time. The emotions involved can resurface for many years, particularly at anniversaries, birthdays, family celebrations and special landmarks, such as when the child would have started school. Although the acute pain will gradually diminish, the baby who died will never be forgotten.