This week we are working on a hugely important UK wide Safe Sleep campaign, run by the Scottish Cot Death Trust (SCDT). Tragically, around 4 babies in the UK lose their lives every week to SUDI, with around 88% of these deaths occurring in the first 6 months of life.*
As well as supporting families affected by sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), the SCDT educate families about the risk factors for SUDI. Their aim is to allow parents and carers across the UK to be fully informed so that they can make their own decisions to reduce risk.
So what are the Safe Sleep messages?
- Back to sleep – always make sure I am put on my back when I’m asleep.
- My cot should be firm and flat – I should never sleep in a seated position.
- Clear my cot – no teddies, bumpers or pillows, just me!
- Feet to foot – make sure I am at the bottom, and not the top, of my cot.
- Tuck me in (to a fitted sleeping bag or with my arms over my blanket).
- Check the room temperature is 16 – 20C.
- If I use a dummy or I’m used to being swaddled, make sure this is consistent for every sleep.
x No smoking – in the car or in my home.
x Never fall asleep with me on a sofa or armchair.
x Avoid letting me sleep in your bed – I should be in my own safe sleep space.
x Alcohol and drugs can increase the risks in my sleeping environment.
x Don’t leave me in the car seat when I am not travelling.
x Don’t let me sleep in a nest, chair, buggy, swing or beanbag.
Why should Safe Sleep messages be followed?
It’s all about keeping baby’s airways clear. This is so important to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation, and SUDI. Remember these three things about a baby:
“My head is big and heavy in proportion to the rest of me”
A baby’s head is 25% of their overall body weight, compared to an adult’s which is only 6%. Imagine you couldn’t lift your own head up! If your baby is sitting in a car seat or a buggy and they fall asleep, their chin will drop down onto their chest and they cannot lift their head back up. This means their airways are kinked, rather than open and clear, which is very dangerous and could lead to SUDI.
“I breathe through my nose”
Babies breathe through their nose, rather than their nose and mouth for the first 3-4 months. It is therefore important that you keep baby’s nose clear so their airways are not blocked. Never cover baby’s nose and mouth because this could cause accidental suffocation. Think about blankets, soft toys, or anything which could cover baby’s nose and mouth, and remove it from their sleep space to reduce this risk.
“My airways are narrow”
Babies have narrow airways, so always be mindful of this and keep them as clear as possible. Don’t press on or against their chest, and make sure their sleep environment is free from smoke or anything which could block, kink or pinch baby’s airways.
Try the tube test
The Scottish Cot Death Trust are launching a new resource - a handy bendable tube which replicates a baby’s airway. This allows parents and carers to appreciate how fragile baby’s airways are, which reinforces the importance of the Safe Sleep messages. The tubes will be available to every family facing professional in Scotland, and Mini First Aid class trainers across the UK will have them available to show you very soon!
If you would like more information about Safe Sleep and reducing the risks of SUDI, please visit www.safesleepscotland.org
The charity is regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). Our charity number is SC003458.
*statistic from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)