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I can remember when Red Nose Day first started. It was 1988 and I was in grade 6. We thought it was fun to wear a ‘clown nose’ to school, and hilarious to see cars, buses and trucks sporting their red noses.

The idea behind Red Nose Day was to ‘get silly for a serious cause’ for an organisation called SIDS & Kids, but I don’t think I truly understood how serious that cause was until many years later when our 2nd daughter Annabelle was stillborn in May 2005. We were referred to SIDS & Kids for ongoing support after Annabelle’s death. I joined a SIDS & Kids affiliated support group in which I met some amazing mums and dads and made lifelong friendships. SIDS & Kids immediately became an organisation that was very dear to my heart, and one that I would continue to promote and support.

To get a little background to SIDS & Kids, it was originally formed across a few Australian states in the late 1970s by some families who had experienced the death of a child from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Over the years, the organisation grew to also support families whose baby or babies were stillborn or who had died shortly after birth, and families whose child/ren had died of sudden accidental or unexpected causes.

In 2016 SIDS & Kids changed its name to Red Nose – pledging to reduce the incidence of sudden and unexpected deaths in babies and pre-school children in Australia to zero. Red Nose is now Australia’s leading authority on safe sleep and safer pregnancy advice, and bereavement support for anyone affected by the death of a baby or child.

One of the greatest achievements of Red Nose over the last century was the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign in the 1980s. This campaign led to the reduction of SIDS incidents in Australia by 85% since 1989. That’s 10,857 babies saved and counting!


This evidence-based campaign consists of information regarding how to sleep your baby safely, and the advice holds true to this day with six steps all parents can take to reduce the risk of their baby dying in their sleep.


  1. Always place baby on their back to sleep: Helps keep their airway clear and ensures their protective reflexes work. Reduces the risk of suffocation, overheating and choking.
  2. Keep baby’s face and head uncovered: Babies control their temperature through their face and head, so keeping baby’s face and head uncovered during sleep helps reduce the risk of overheating.
  3. Keep baby smoke-free before and after birth: Smoking during pregnancy and around baby once they are born increases the risk of sudden infant death. This includes second-hand smoke.
  4. Safe sleeping environment day and night: Their own safe space, with a safe mattress, and safe bedding. Baby should always be placed on their back to sleep, with their feet at the bottom of the bassinet or cot.
  5. Sleep baby in safe cot in parents’ room for the first 6-12 months: Several studies have shown that when a committed caregiver sleeps in the same room, but not the same bed with their baby, the chance of the baby dying suddenly and unexpectedly is reduced by up to 50% when compared to babies sleeping in a separate room (solitary sleeping).
  6. Breastfeed baby: Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden infant death.


Sadly though, more than 3000 babies still die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in Australia. We are losing them to stillbirth, SIDS, and other unexpected causes.

By participating in a fundraiser event such as Red Nose Day, (and encouraging family, friends and colleagues to do the same), money raised helps fund the Red Nose 24/7 support service for grief-stricken families and education programs for new parents to help them keep their babies safe. It also helps fund research to further determine the causes of SIDS and stillbirth and what can be done to prevent these tragedies from happening.

On this 34th Red Nose Day, I encourage you all to continue to ‘get silly for a serious cause’! Jump online at and buy a red nose, a pair of Red Nose spotty socks, an apron, pen, or lapel pin. There are even some cute plush toys for the little (and big) kids. If you are lucky enough to have scored yourself a Red Nose mask (currently sold out), what better day to wear it than Red Nose Day?!

My son is now in grade 6, and I hope that he will continue to have fond memories of wearing a red nose and ‘getting silly’ to raise valuable funds to help bring the number of unexpected deaths in babies and pre-school children in Australia to zero.


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