Suffocation and Strangulation

Asphyxia (which includes choking, suffocation, and strangulation) is the third most common cause of accidental death in children in the UK. Most of these are in children under 5.

Babies and young children don’t have the control that adults have over their bodies. It is harder for them to move out of a dangerous situation.

It takes just a few minutes for a baby to suffocate. They are too weak to move themselves out of a position where they can’t breathe.

Tips for safe sleeping
  • Do not use duvets or pillows for babies under 1 year old.
  • Always put babies down to sleep on their back with their feet at the end of the cot. 
  • Do not sleep with your baby particularly if you have been drinking alcohol, taken drugs or medication, smoke, are extremely tired, or if your baby was born before 37 weeks, or weighed less than 2.5kg (5lb 5oz) at birth.
  • Never leave a baby to sleep on a sofa or adult bed.
  • Never leave a baby unattended on a cushion or bean bag.

A safe sleep environment is essential. See our safe sleeping page for more information.

Further tips:
  • When using a baby carrier always follow the TICKS advice:
    • Keep your baby Tight
    • In view at all times
    • Close enough to kiss
    • Keep their chin off their chest
    • Supported back
  • Keep nappy sacks and all plastic bags out of sight and reach of babies and children.
  • Keep pets away from small babies and children.
  • Remove ribbons and ties from all homemade clothing.
  • Move bedroom furniture away from blind cords and chains. Fit a hook or tensioner to keep blind cords and chains safely away and always use them. New blinds should come with these.
  • Do not hang bags with cords or drawstrings on the ends of cots or beds.
  • Ensure rotary washing lines are covered when not in use.
  • Stop children from playing with washing lines, ropes or cords (including dressing gown cords).
  • Always supervise children playing with capes or clothing which is tied around the neck and could get caught.
Further information and resources:

For more information visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.