Breastfeeding and SIDS

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding for at least 2 months halves the risk of SIDS but the longer you can continue the the more protection it will give your baby.

Breast milk is all the nutrition your baby needs for their first 6 months of life. At 6 months you can then introduce other foods as well.

The Department of Health now recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for at least six months and that breastfeeding is continued, with the addition of appropriate weaning foods, for as long as the mother and baby want.

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS

Even breastfeeding for a short time can be protective for your baby. Both partial and exclusive breastfeeding have been shown to be associated with a lower SIDS rate, but exclusive breastfeeding was associated with the lowest risk.

SIDS risk is halved in babies who are breastfed for at least 2 months

If you’re struggling

Breastfeeding can be hard. If you are struggling talk to your midwife or health visitor and they can support you or call National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.

Breastfeeding FAQs

Does bottle feeding increase the risk of SIDS?

It has been shown that partial or combination feeding (breast milk and formula) and exclusive breastfeeding have been associated with lower SIDS rates. Thankfully SIDS is now very rare. If you bottle feed your baby and follow all the other pieces of safer sleep advice then the chance of SIDS is extremely low.

Is it safe to breastfeed if I smoke?

Breastfeeding has many benefits and regardless of whether you are a smoker or not, it is the best way to feed your baby. We would still encourage smokers to breastfeed, but smoking has its own risks that you should be aware of. Read our advice on smoking and e-cigarettes for more information.

For help and advice to stop smoking visit the Smokefree NHS website

I need information

National Breastfeeding Helpline 0300 100 0212
Safer sleep advice
Publications
Unicef UK Baby Friendly breastfeeding resources