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How can I keep my baby safe whilst sleeping?

As a sleep consultant, I speak to a lot of sleep deprived parents who have and will try ‘anything’ to get their babies and toddlers to sleep. A non-sleeping child can have huge impacts on family life, along with health and wellbeing, so very often, we, as parents, resort to anything that will get the whole family some rest. We’ve all been there! I know as a desperate first time mum, I tried everything!

But, it’s really important to know what the safe sleep guidelines are. Hampshire have launched their 'Every Sleep Counts' campaign which aims to give healthcare professionals and parents detailed information on what safe sleep means. Last week I went to the launch of this campaign and would like to share some of the key points to keep you informed.

The cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) isn’t fully known but research over decades has concluded that there are contributing factors to blame. These include:

- Co -sleeping (intentionally or un-intentionally – such as falling asleep in bed with your baby whilst feeding or watching tv);

- Sleeping on a mattress or place not intended (and made specifically) for an infant – such as sofas, air beds, duvets and adult mattresses (even without parents there). This increases the risk of SIDS by up to 50 times.

- Smoking by the mother and partner/carer;

- Alcohol and use of drugs (including prescription drugs which may have a sedative effect);

- Low weight or premature babies;

- Environmental factors – overheating - such as covering babies head whilst sleeping (wearing a hat);

- Use of sleep aids (next to me/sleepy heads) - even if they are known brands – the advice is to ensure they are age appropriate or, better still, place baby alone to sleep in their own cot;

- Positional factors – placing baby on their front to sleep;

- In addition, babies under 6 weeks should only be in a car seat for a maximum of 30 minutes before needing a break (they are also at risk of over-heating in car seats) and every hour for over 6 week olds.

So, what are we advised to do to keep our babies sleeping soundly and safely? The Every Sleep Counts advice is to:

- Place your baby in their own cot or moses basket with a firm mattress without any gaps (made for children)

- Place your baby in a clear cot or moses basket – no pillows, bumpers or lose blankets

- Place your baby to sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months

Having a baby is an overwhelming time, but it is important to know the SIDs guidelines to keep them safe. Babies cry – studies have shown that it is not only normal but necessary (Dr Thomas Berry Brazleton) but speak to a health care professional if you have any concerns about getting your child to sleep safely.

My ‘Dream a Little Dream’ Package is a gentle sleep package for new borns, which follows SIDs guidelines in helping you to gently support your child in sleeping independently (and learning what they are communicating to you) from Day 1. #everysleepcounts

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