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Safer sleep for babies

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All parents want their babies to sleep well.  But one of the great universal parenting truths is that as soon when a baby starts sleeping well the parent is likely to wake up, panicking that something has happened to the baby.

Over 300 babies die from SIDs (Sudden Infant Death, also referred to as cot death) in the UK each year.  Although that number sounds shocking, and SIDs is one of the main causes of death in babies under 12 months, it’s worth remembering that it is still rare and that thanks to the work of organisations such as The Lullaby Trust1 numbers have been fallen steeply in the past 20 years.

One of the biggest changes in that period has been the recommendation to put babies down to sleep on their backs, rather than their tummies (something that might need gently reminding to older friends or relatives who are trying to help with bedtime).  Bedding also plays a big role in helping to prevent SIDs and the general rule is the simpler the better, with nice firm, well-fitting mattress.  The idea is to ensure that your baby doesn’t get too hot, or manage to wriggle themselves under their bed clothes.  You should keep your baby’s cot as clear as possible and don’t use pillows or duvets for under-ones.  Baby sleeping bags, like Kiddy Kaboosh’s, are fantastic as they come in a range of temperature ratings (called ‘togs’).  As long as you choose the appropriate tog and right size sleeping bag – the baby’s head should be larger than the neck opening to prevent them slipping down – our sleep sacks are a wonderfully safe way for baby to sleep.  On those occasions when you need to use sheets or blankets instead of the sleeping bag, make sure you use the ‘feet to foot’ position.  The NHS website2 gives a good outline of how this works.

The Lullaby Trust also recommends having your baby sleep in a cot or moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months, keeping your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth and, if possible, breastfeed.  There’s also a suggestion that using a dummy when going to sleep can help reduce risk, although evidence isn’t yet considered conclusive.

Co-sleeping is also an issue to consider.  The NHS warns that the risk of SIDs is increased when co-sleeping if:

  • Your or your partner are smokers, have recently drunk alcohol, have taken medication or drugs that make you sleep more heavily
  • Your baby was premature (born before 37 weeks) or a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb)

There may be times when parents choose to co-sleep with their young children, either through choice or necessity.  Please take a moment to read the Lullaby Trust guide to co-sleeping safely3.

1 – www.lullabytrust.org.uk/LThome

2 – www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/reducing-risk-cot-death.aspx#feet-to-foot

3 – www.lullabytrust.org.uk/file/—–internal-documents/Fact-sheet-Bedsharing.pdf

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