Child protection practitioners must be aware of childcare practices to address sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk factors, particularly that:
- babies should be put on their backs to sleep
- babies should be in smoke-free environments, before and after their birth
- babies’ heads and faces should remain uncovered during sleep
- babies should sleep in a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding) night and day
- co-sleeping with an infant increases the risk of SIDS and fatal sleep accidents in some circumstances.
Child protection practitioners are required to discuss SIDS risk factors with parents and carers and provide information about the ways to reduce these risks for infants.
Child protection practitioners are also required to sight the child's sleeping arrangements and ensure the sleeping environment is safe. Practitioners must make a record of these tasks in CRIS.
For additional information see SIDS and safe sleeping - advice.
Case practitioner tasks
- In all cases where investigation or intervention involves a child aged less than two years:
- consider SIDS risk factors
- sight and confirm safe sleeping arrangements and routines at all locations in all homes where the infant sleeps
- provide advice, direction and educational materials to parents and carers (download an easy-to-read brochure: www.sidsandkids.org/safe-sleeping).
- Document confirmation of safe sleeping arrangements and provision of educational materials in CRIS.
- In addition to current clients, undertake the tasks above where:
- there is a new baby or child under two, or
- a child under two comes to live with a family subject to ongoing intervention or a court order.
- If a child under two is to be reunified with their parent or caregiver, visit the home to confirm safe sleeping arrangements prior to the child returning to the carers’ or parents’ care.
- Revisit the safe sleeping assessment regularly.
When an infant needs an intensive response, this means checking during each visit until the agreed assessment is that sleeping arrangements are consistently safe.
- See SIDS and safe sleeping – advice for further information about SIDS risk factors.
- Where SIDS risk factors and/or other protective concerns are identified, talk with the family about referral to the local maternal and child health nurse for support and further information.
Failure by a parent to adequately address SIDS risk factors in the face of explicit requests to do so, may form part of the evidence underpinning an application to the children's court.
- Provide ongoing support and supervision.
- Discuss SIDS risk factors in supervision.