This week is Safer Sleep Week, the national awareness campaign from the Lullaby Trust, “targeting anyone looking after a young baby. It aims to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the proven advice on how parents can reduce the risk of it occurring.
We know that greater awareness of safer sleep leads to a decrease in the numbers of babies dying. Sadly, around 4 babies a week still die from SIDS and if all parents were aware of safer sleep advice many lives could be saved.
Around 700,000 babies are born every year in the UK and we need to continue to reach out to all new parents with our safer sleep message.”
Here at SnoozeShade HQ we’re supporting this campaign, and we wanted to bring you a little advice on safer sleeping for babies, from the Lullaby Trust.
What is SIDS?
From the Lullaby Trust website:
Sudden Infant Death’ is the term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or toddler that is initially unexplained. The usual medical term is ‘Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy’ (SUDI). Some sudden and unexpected infant deaths can be explained by the post-mortem examination revealing, for example, an unforeseen infection or metabolic disorder. Deaths that remain unexplained after the post mortem are usually registered as ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ (SIDS). Sometimes other terms such as SUDI or ‘unascertained’ may be used.
‘Cot death’ was a term commonly used in the past to describe the sudden and unexpected death of an infant. It has largely been abandoned, due to its misleading suggestions that sudden infant death can only occur when a baby is asleep in their own cot, which we know to be untrue.
Researchers believe that undiscovered causes are at the root of SIDS, where a baby’s death just cannot be explained.
What is Safer Sleep week all about?
This year the focus for the campaign is on co-sleeping, in recognition of the fact that many families choose this as their preferred way to sleep. Co-sleeping can be done safely, and the charity wants to spread the right information so that you know how to avoid the hazards that can pose danger to your baby.
There is fierce debate on this issue but many parents lack information on how to co-sleep more safely and the potential risks of co-sleeping under certain circumstances and health visitors struggle to impart this information in a way that parents will accept. This campaign will focus on helping parents to make informed choices about co-sleeping and avoid hazardous co-sleeping.
You can watch the Lullaby Trust’s video here for more information.
Safe sleep guidance
Hopefully you will already know, but here are the guidelines once again.
- ALWAYS place baby on their back to sleep, and not on their front or side unless your doctor has told you to do so. Research has concluded that placing a baby on their tummy for sleep increases the risks of SIDS and if baby rolls on to the tummy, you should place her back on her back once more. Once baby is able to roll from back to tummy and back again, you can leave them to sleep in the position they naturally prefer.
- Make sure baby’s feet are to the foot of the cot. This prevents them from crawling down under the blankets.
- Place baby to sleep in a separate moses basket or cot in the same room as you for the first six months. Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. Make sure baby’s mattress is firm and flat, and protected by a waterproof cover. A new mattress is recommended for each baby, unless it has been previously covered by a waterproof cover that can be wiped down. Sheets and blankets should be tucked in firmly and don’t use pillows. Cot bumpers should also be avoided as they can pose risk of accident once baby becomes more mobile.
- If you do choose to co-sleep, follow the guidance on how to do it safely.
- Don’t let your baby overheat. Check that the temperature of the room is 16-20 degrees celcius and that bedding is light and well fitting. To check that baby is not too hot, feel the tummy or back of the neck and remove layers skin if feels clammy. No hats or coats inside.
- Don’t smoke. Research has found that 30% of SIDS deaths could have been prevented if mum had not smoked in pregnancy, and there are risks associated to others smoking around babies too. Keep your baby away from smoky areas and don’t share a bed with baby if you or your partner smokes.
- Breastfeeding can help to lower the risks of SIDS. More information can be found here.
- Using a dummy could help to lower the risks of SIDS, if used as part of your baby’s sleep routine.
- Swaddling can help to settle baby to sleep and if you do, make sure that you use only thin materials to swaddle and never above the shoulders. Don’t put your swaddled baby to sleep on their front and never wrap too tightly.
- Take care when babywearing. Make sure baby’s chin is not to the chest so that airways are open, and ensure that baby is breathing fresh air at all times, in an upright position.
- If your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or is of low birth weight (below 2.5kg) they are at greater risk and safe sleep precautions should be followed at all times.
Please see here for guidance you can download and refer to at home.