Parents and carers of young babies urged to follow safer sleeping advice

11th March 2019

Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board, together with Norfolk County Council Public Health and Norfolk Constabulary, is urging parents and carers of young babies to follow safer sleeping advice to help reduce cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS, formerly known as cot death, is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. In 2016, the most recent available year for data, there was an 11%* rise in cases of SIDS in the East of England compared with the previous year.

Although the cause of SIDS is not fully understood, there is extensive evidence demonstrating that the risk of SIDS can be significantly reduced by following safer sleeping guidance.

Chair of the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board, David Ashcroft, said: “Data from 2016 shows that there were 21 deaths from SIDS in our region. We’re working with our partners to try to reduce this number by increasing awareness of safer sleeping advice so that people are equipped with the knowledge to sleep their baby more safely.”

This latest drive to raise awareness coincides with Safer Sleep Week (11-17 March), The Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign. It focuses on two key messages:

  • The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first six months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you, even during the day
  • You should never share a bed with your baby if:
    • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
    • Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including any medication that may make you drowsy)
    • Your baby was premature (born before 37 weeks) or had a low birth-weight (less than 2.5 kg or 5½ lbs)
    • You are particularly overtired

    Dr Louise Smith, Director of Norfolk County Council Public Health, said: “It is important for people to know that there are some circumstances in which sharing a bed with your baby can be very dangerous. Getting into sleep routines can be difficult when you have a new baby or are tired yourself. By following some simple advice, there are things you can do to keep your baby safe while they are sleeping.”

    Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, added: “Working with our partners, we aim to ensure that people have access to consistent advice on sleeping their baby. Safe sleep practices should be followed whether you’re at home, on holiday or staying with friends – a particularly important message as we approach the start of the holiday season.”

    The partnership’s campaign features a short film showing the devastating impact of SIDS on a family, produced in collaboration with a parent who has first-hand experience of losing a baby to SIDS.

    Parents, grandparents and carers can find safer sleeping advice at

    * Office for National Statistics (ONS): All unexplained infant deaths by regions in England, and Wales, 2004 to 2016.

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