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Safer Sleep Week 2023

Safer Sleep Week 2023

Hannah Allport, student health visitor

Health visitors working with families across Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are spreading the word about how to keep babies safe while asleep, to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The advice is being shared as part of Safer Sleep Week, 13-19 March 2023. This is a national awareness campaign led by the Lullaby Trust which aims to teach anyone looking after a young baby how to reduce the risk of SIDS when putting a baby to sleep.

According to the Trust, tragically around three babies a week die from SIDS in the UK. Research shows, however, that knowing how to put a baby to sleep safely will reduce this risk.

Hannah Allport, a student health visitor at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We always teach families that we support what the advice on how to put babies to sleep safely is, but sadly SIDS still occurs.

“It’s important we use Safer Sleep Week to share as widely as possible how anyone looking after a baby can ensure they have a safe sleep and the theme for the week this year is avoiding co-sleeping.”

Many SIDS deaths happen when parents or carers accidentally fall asleep while holding their baby. This creates a hazardous environment in which the baby is at huge risk of overlay – meaning their airways become blocked by either the adult caring for them or other objects nearby such as cushions or blankets.

Vicki Oliver, Clinical Lead for Children’s and Families services at the Trust explained: “The safest environment for a baby to sleep in is a flat, clear cot – with no toys, cushions or other objects around. Ideally, the baby will be put to sleep in the same room as their carer, with their feet to the foot of the cot wearing a sleeping bag or tucked in under a blanket so they can’t wriggle too much.

“We never recommend co-sleeping as it can be really dangerous for newborn babies. It’s particularly dangerous if their carer has had alcohol, smokes, has taken any medication that causes drowsiness, and for babies born prematurely.

“We also recommend parents and carers place babies on their backs for sleeping because airways can become restricted when lying on their front.”

The Lullaby Trust states that the risk of SIDS is 50 times higher for babies when they sleep on a sofa or armchair with an adult, because it is easy for them to fall into a position where they are trapped and can’t breathe.

The Health Visiting team urge anyone worried about how to keep their baby safe when putting them to sleep to contact them on 01274 221223.

You can also visit the Lullaby Trust website for more tips on how to keep a baby safe when sleeping, including what temperature to keep the room at and safe swaddling.