During the first year of life and particularly the first 6 months autonomic control of the cardio-respiratory system is still undergoing maturation and infants are at risk of cardio-respiratory instability. These instabilities are most marked during sleep, which is important as infants spend the majority of each 24 hours in sleep. Sleep state has a marked effect on the cardio-respiratory system with instabilities being more common in active sleep compared to quiet sleep. Responses to hypoxia are also immature during infancy and may make young infants more vulnerable to cardio-respiratory instability. It has been proposed that an inability to respond appropriately to a life threatening event underpins the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The major risk factors for SIDS, prone sleeping and maternal smoking, both impair cardio-respiratory control in normal healthy term infants.