Make sure you know the latest advice on 'Safer Sleep'

By Katherine Whitby 22nd February 2017


Hot from my annual update and Regional Meeting in London with the Lullaby Trust I wanted to share with you their latest advice and findings in their work to reduce Sudden Infant Death (SIDS); the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found.


Car Seats

Initially Charlotte Daman Willems, Consultant Paediatrician, discussed the latest research about infant car seats. Overall any possible risks to babies travelling in car seats, is overwhelmingly overridden by the safety they provide and reducing injuries.   Since 2006 they have reduced the risk of infant deaths in cars by 70%.

There was discussion about the length of time a baby might spend in a car seat when it is part of a travel system, so becoming the child’s buggy too or parents may leave a baby to sleep in the seat once they come home. It is not advisable to have the baby in the car seat for any prolonged period. A pilot study has suggested the upright position; particularly with simulated motion (in a vehicle) can potentially have adverse cardiorespiratory effects as their airway is not in the same position as when lying flat. Dr Willems advised car manufacturers had been to the Lullaby Trust to discuss designs of car seats which could have new-borns in a flatter position. I would like to highlight this was a small study and other risks included babies being fed whilst in the car seat, therefore presenting a choking hazard, or when the seat was used as a cot. The key safety factor remains having a baby in a car seat to reduce the risk of injury.  Make sure you understand the latest rules on baby car seats

baby car seat rules 2017

Safer Sleep Week 2017 and Latest Advice

The Regional Manager Cheryl Pearce discussed the upcoming Safer Sleep Week 13th – 19th March 2017. 25 years since the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign was headed by TV Presenter Anne Diamond who sadly lost her son to Sudden Infant Death, The Lullaby Trust have decided to go ‘Back to Basics’ and remind parents of the simple messages about safer sleep. The 1992 campaign reduced Sudden Infant Death by 75% making it the most successful health campaign of all time. Whilst the latest figures show Sudden Infant Death has decreased again, a recent study showed a decline in those aware the safest position is on the back (rather than the side or front), until babies are able to roll.

So here is the latest advice to reduce the risk of SIDS which will be highlighted during Safer Sleep Week:


Things you can do:

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep

  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth

  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months

  • Breastfeed your baby (if you can)

  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition


Things to avoid: 

  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby (this increases the risk 50 times)

  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, have drink alcohol, have taken drugs or medication or are extremely tired, or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight

  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot (16-20C is the recommended room temperature)

  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head whilst sleeping or use loose bedding (the Lullaby Trust recommends grobags/ sleeping bags as long as they are the correct size for your baby’s weight)


To avoid accidents remove all pillows, soft bedding, cot bumpers and soft toys from the cot.

The Lullaby Trust is still trying to understand the mechanisms that cause unexplained deaths in infancy; therefore it is not possible for any manufacturer to say that a particular product will prevent SIDS. It is possible, however, to significantly lower the chances of it happening by following this safer sleep guidance.  This advice is based on strong scientific evidence where, unlike many products, safety has been proven. You should try to follow the advice for all sleep periods where possible, not just at night. Dr Willems highlighted how important it is for parents not to rely on monitors but to observe their babies and follow their instincts.


Fact sheets

All of this advice is available on the Lullaby Trust website along with brilliant factsheets including ones about ‘Sleeping Products’ (bumpers, supports and pillows) and mattresses and bedding, swaddling, dummies, room temperature bed sharing . It is very confusing for parents with all the products out there but sticking to the advice offered by the Trust will ensure you are keeping your baby as safe as possible.


Snow Suits

In the cold weather be wary of babies becoming too hot in snowsuits. Think how hot you can feel coming in from the cold outside into a warm place and want to take layers off. So don’t be tempted to leave them done up if they are sleeping, they could overheat – I know how you don’t want to disturb them! They also should not be wearing snowsuits in a car seat due to getting too hot but also they cause a dangerous gap between the child and the straps.

baby snowsuit 2017

Baby Check App

The Lullaby Trust also has a fantastic app called Baby Check App which asks you a series of questions about your baby’s health and gives you a score at the end which indicates if you need to see a doctor.

For more information visit the Lullaby Trust or contact them on 0808 802 6869 where they can offer practical, reassuring advice or do get in touch with me to share your thoughts and tips,

Take Care,

Katherine x


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