During National Safer Sleep Week (9 – 15 March), Sheffield City Council will be promoting lifesaving advice on safe sleep for babies.
Sadly, around four babies die every week in the UK from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While there is no known cause, there are practices that have been proven to reduce the risk. Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign targeting anyone looking after a young baby. It aims to raise awareness of SIDS and promote safer sleep advice.
Sheffield City Council supports Safer Sleep Week as part of its Baby Safe campaign in partnership with the NHS. This initiative provides support and advice to help new and expectant parents keep their babies safe.
This year’s campaign is focused on helping parents to cope with sleep deprivation. According to The Lullaby Trust, tiredness is the greatest barrier for parents to following safer sleep advice consistently. So how can parents prepare for those moments when they may be tempted to take risks due to tiredness? Guidance from The Lullaby Trust advises parents to stick to its safer sleep guidelines for every sleep, day or night:
- Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
- Place your baby in a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep
- Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition
- Don’t sleep your baby on a pod or nest or give them a pillow
- Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding
- Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
Last year, it was found that the rate of SIDS had reached a record low, attributed in part to the safer sleep advice provided through initiatives such as Safer Sleep Week.
In Sheffield new or expectant parents can contact or visit their local Family Centre for further support and advice on safer sleeping. Parents can also find more advice on The Lullaby Trust website, which includes vital information such as the best position for babies to sleep in, how to co-sleep more safely and other guidance that can reduce the risk of SIDS.
Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, Cllr Jackie Drayton said: “As any new parent will know, having a baby can be an exhausting experience. It can be very challenging to follow best practice guidelines for safe sleep when you are suffering from sleep deprivation yourself. This year’s Safer Sleep Week aims to support parents who are going through this challenging time with guidance on the best ways to make sure their babies are sleeping safely.
“As part of our ongoing Baby Safe campaign in Sheffield, we are pleased to support Safer Sleep Week and to help share these important messages across our city. It is hugely encouraging to see that the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has reached a record low and by sharing safer sleep advice we can help to ensure this downward trend continues.”
Henrietta Mlalazi, mum of two, is a Baby Safe Champion, who struggled with sleep deprivation herself as a new mother: “Fighting sleep deprivation is hard enough on its own, without trying to keep a baby safe as well. Personally, I would need to monitor how tired I was and make sure to ask for help from my partner so that I could rest. Most days I would need to figure it out on my own with a toddler and an infant, while my partner was at work. No matter how tired I was, I would always remember that I must not fall asleep with my baby while on the sofa or while sitting on the bed.
“What really helped me to survive sleep deprivation was asking for help when I needed it, from my partner and family. It can be hard to do because we as mums put pressure on ourselves to hold it all together, but you don’t have to do it all alone. Reach out to family and friends and don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it.”