Safer Sleep Week (14th-20th March) is The Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign targeting anyone looking after a young baby. It aims to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome and the safer sleep advice that reduces the risk of it occurring.
In 2022 their focus has been on the digital world. Social media plays a huge role in parenting nowadays, with parents, and anyone looking after a baby going onto Instagram for tips and hacks. However, there are lots of images and tips that go viral which can sadly increase the risk of SIDS occurring. This year The Lullaby Trust are saying #letskeepitclear and reminding everyone of their simple and easy to follow safer sleep advice.
All a baby needs is a firm, flat sleep space that is clear of toys, bulky bedding and accessories and a simple blanket or baby sleep bag.
They want to promote this message on social media and reach as many people who look after a baby as possible, to make them aware that some of the images of baby sleep space aren’t always the safest.
Read on for the 'safe sleep' and 'safe co-sleeping' guidelines, or head to The Lullaby Trust's Website here.
We do not know what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For many babies it is likely that a combination of factors affect them at a vulnerable stage of their development. But following advice and guidance from The Back to Sleep Campaign that was introduced back in the early 90’s, will help to reduce the sudden and unexpected death of infants.
- You should always place your baby on their back to sleep and not on their front or side (unless your doctor has advised you of a medical reason to do so)
- Sleeping a baby on their front or side greatly increases the chance of SIDS
- It is important that you always put your baby on their back as part of their regular sleep routine – the chance of SIDS is particularly high for babies who are sometimes placed on their front or side
After 6 months of age, the risk is significantly reduced, however SIDS can still happen so it is best to continue the safer sleep routines you have built up over time.
If your baby rolls onto their tummy
Once your baby can move themselves from their back to their front and back again by themselves, they will be able to find their own sleeping position (over 6 months of age usually).
The first few times they roll onto their tummy, you might like to gently turn them back, but do not feel you have to get up all night to check. Give them some time to play on their tummy while they are awake to help their development, but make sure you supervise them while they are on their front.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
- Place your baby in the "feet to foot" position (with their feet touching the end of the cot, Moses basket, or pram).
- Keep your baby’s head uncovered. Their blanket should be tucked in no higher than their shoulders. Preferably under their armpits, or swaddled and tucked in.
- Let your baby sleep in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months.
- Use a mattress that's firm, flat, waterproof and in good condition. A new mattress should be purchased.
- Breastfeed your baby (if you can).
- Use a dummy once breastfeeding is established
- Remove babies from car seats as soon as possible after a car journey and take regular breaks during long car journeys to give the infant time out of the seat. The same advice applies to travel systems to ensure the baby doesn't spend too long in a semi-upright position.
- For baby-wearing, make sure the sling is positioned securely, that you can always see the baby's face when you glance downwards and are able to kiss your baby's head. The child should never be curled up so much that their chin is forced into their or your chest as this can restrict their breathing.
- Place twins who sleep together side by side and not close enough to touch so that they cannot roll on top of each other.
- Smoke during pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby (both before and after birth).
- Smoke E-cigarettes around a baby - we treat these the same as ordinary cigarettes until more research has been done
- Sleep on a bed/duvet, sofa or armchair with your baby.
- Share a bed with your baby if you or your partner smoke or take drugs, or if you've been drinking alcohol.
- Do not share a bed with a baby who was born prematurely or weighs less than 5.5lbs (2.5kg)
- Do not bed share if you are extremely tired - (further bed sharing guidelines below)
- Let your baby get too hot or too cold. A room temperature of 16-20C, with light bedding or a lightweight baby sleeping bag, will provide a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby.
- Use cot bumpers or have toys in a baby’s cot
- Use soft bedding, pillows or loose blankets or sleeping aids such as a Sleepy Head
BED SHARING GUIDELINES
There is a difference between the terms ‘bed sharing’ and ‘co-sleeping’
Co-Sleeping is when a baby is placed within their own sleep space, usually attached to the side of the parents’ bed. This is usually called a co-sleeper crib/cot and is an extension of the parents bed and a safe space for your baby to sleep.
Bed sharing refers to sharing one bed together. This would be the parents’ bed and this can be a wonderful way to sleep as long as safe sleep guidelines on bed-sharing are followed.
These guidelines MUST be followed if a parent decides that they would like to share their bed with their child:
- ONLY share a bed with a baby if they are breastfed. Formula fed babies should NOT bed share. They can co-sleep in a side-cot.
- Both parents should be non-smokers and, importantly, the mother also should not have smoked during pregnancy
- Both parents should not have consumed any alcohol
- Both parents should not have taken any recreational or prescription drugs
- Parents should not be ‘excessively tired’, based on their own instinct, although some suggest they should not have had less than 5 hours sleep in the last 24 hours
- The mother should ALWAYS sleep between her partner and the baby; the baby should NEVER be in the middle of the bed. This is also true for any older siblings who are also sharing the bed.
- The sleeping surface should be firm (no memory foam) and designed for sleep; this means beds only; NEVER sleep with a baby on a sofa, in a hammock or a beanbag
- Prevent the baby from rolling onto the floor; many parents decide to sleep on a mattress on the floor to prevent this from happening. You can also use a co-sleeping cot, such as a Snuzpod or Chico Next to Me as a safety barrier for your baby. Do not use a bed guard designed for a toddler.
- Keep pillows well away from the baby. The baby should sleep at the same level as the mother’s breasts, not her head
- The mother should lie on her side and form a protective frame around her baby
- Keep duvets and blankets away from the baby to prevent risk of smothering and to ensure the baby does not overheat
- Tie long hair back and do not wear nightclothes with loose ties in order to prevent accidental strangulation