Around 290 babies and toddlers die every year of SIDS in the UK. Each year in Kent, approximately nine babies under a year old die unexpectedly in their sleep.
Research has shown that several parental and infant care factors are more frequently associated with babies who die of SIDS. There are no obvious reasons for these deaths, but factors such as overheating and co-sleeping do increase the risk, so parents who follow the safer sleep advice can significantly lower the chances of this occurring.
In 2016, the multi-agency Kent Safeguarding Children’s Board and partner organisations developed and launched innovative thermometer cards to help parents understand the issues and monitor the temperature of the room in which their baby is sleeping. These are currently being given to parents with key safety messages by health visitors and midwives.
Kent County Council Public Health Director Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We are working with partner agencies and organisations across the health sectors in Kent to ensure that all professionals in touch with parents – this includes health visitors and midwives – make sure that the safer sleeping messages get to parents and are understood by them.”
A baby is at greater risk of dying during sleep when a parent/carer places their baby on an adult bed or sofa to sleep (day or night). Also, if they fall asleep with their baby in an adult bed, sofa or armchair, especially if they smoke, have recently drunk alcohol or have taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy).
To prevent your baby overheating, it is advised:
- Never cover your baby’s head when they are sleeping
- Never put your baby to sleep in a cot/crib with pillows, cot bumpers, duvets/quilts or soft toys
- Always remove your baby’s hat and outer clothing when coming indoors – especially if the baby is asleep
- Always remove your baby from their car seat as soon they are brought inside – car seats are designed for transport only.
- Avoid dressing your baby in warm clothing when carrying in a baby sling – they could overheat.
Sarah Wilson from the Lullaby Trust said: “Although we have never had lower rates of SIDS in England and Wales, four babies still die every week suddenly and unexpectedly. It is vital that the safer sleep guidelines are followed for every sleep. If parents are unsure or confused by the guidance, we encourage them to speak to their health care provider and/or contact the Lullaby Trust direct who will be more than happy to offer guidance and support. “
For more information on this and settling babies to sleep, parents are advised to speak to their health visitor. The thermometer card also provides details of support services to help parents including children’s centres across the county.
For more information on smoking cessation services call 0300 123 1220 or text ‘quit’ to 87023.
Find your nearest Children’s Centre and see what’s going on at www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/childcare-and-pre-school/childrens-centres
You can find details about the Lullaby Trust and Safer Sleeping Week at www.lullabytrust.org.uk