Sleep Advice For Parents

17 February 2011, 00:00 | Updated: 2 March 2011, 12:52

A new 'Safe Sleep' campaign is being launched in East Sussex to help prevent the sudden and unexpected deaths of babies in the county.

It will include further efforts by midwives, health visitors and others to advise parents of babies under the age of one year about safe and unsafe sleeping practices - including those that carry an extremely high risk, such as falling asleep with a baby on a sofa.

Posters and flyers will also be displayed in local GP practices, health centres and local businesses, and new parents in targeted areas will receive printed baby bibs highlighting key safety advice.

Margaret Zwirek, a Specialist Nurse who helps investigate child deaths in East Sussex, said:

"The death of a child is one of the most tragic and devastating experiences a family can go through.

Cot death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can be particularly hard for parents because, even after a thorough medical investigation, they will not know why their baby died.

However, we do know that it is possible to reduce the risk to your baby and we really hope that our 'Safe Sleep' campaign will help prevent further tragedies."

Hear our interview with Margaret

The East Sussex 'Safe Sleep' campaign is being supported by the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), the UK cot death charity.

FSID's director, Joyce Epstein, said:

"A family suffers the tragedy of a cot death nearly every day in the UK and it remains the leading cause of death for babies over one month old.

If we are to save lives, we need many more campaigns like this to ensure that safe sleep messages reach local communities"

Advice for parents to reduce the risk of cot death:

*       Cut smoking in pregnancy - fathers too! And don't let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
*       Place your baby on the back to sleep (and not on the front or side).
*       Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep your baby's head uncovered.
*       Place your baby with their feet to the foot of the cot, to prevent them wriggling down under the covers
*       Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
*       The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.

     It's especially dangerous for your baby to sleep in your bed if you (or your partner):
*       are a smoker, even if you never smoke in bed or at home
*       have been drinking alcohol
*       take medication or drugs that make you drowsy
*       feel very tired;

      or if your baby:
*       was born before 37 weeks
*       weighed less than 2.5kg or 5½ lbs at birth

Don't forget, accidents can happen: you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby; or your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or could roll out of an adult bed and be injured.

Settling your baby to sleep (day and night) with a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death, even if the dummy falls out while your baby is asleep.

Breastfeed your baby. Establish breastfeeding before starting to use a dummy.