The resources will provide information and guidance for parents on reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and support health professionals to have effective conversations about safer sleep. Families will be given the new safer sleep information and resources by health professionals, supported by all four organisations.

The guide focuses on providing information on the key actions parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS such as sleeping baby on their back on a clear flat sleep space, avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and after birth, and breastfeeding. We have also given information on bed sharing safety, as while cot safety was previously emphasised, we know that many parents bed share and wanted to give clearer information on doing so in a way that reduces risk.

A professional’s guide has also been produced by the partnership. It is a resource aimed at helping professionals to effectively convey safer sleep information to parents. The guide emphasises the vital importance of having open, non-judgemental conversations with parents about safer sleep, including bed sharing and provides suggestions for having those sometimes difficult discussions.

Jenny Ward CEO of The Lullaby Trust said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Public Health England, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative and Basis. Although the number of SIDS deaths has declined over the past 25 years, the recent rise in rates has demonstrated the importance of all parents having access to safer sleep information. Around 5 babies still die of SIDS every week in the UK. This partnership will save lives by ensuring more parents receive and understand information on how to reduce the risk of SIDS.”

 Wendy Nicholson, National Lead Nurse, Children, Young People and Families, Public Health England, adds:

“We know that it may be difficult to have open conversations about the risks of bed sharing when talking to parents about safe sleeping. These important new resources will support health professionals’ conversations with parents who might share a bed with their baby, to help more families get the right advice on how to keep their baby safe. We would always encourage parents to talk to their midwife or health visitor for further advice.”

Sue Ashmore , Programme Director of Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative said:

New mothers and families need clear, consistent information on safer sleep. The Baby Friendly Initiative is very pleased to support these resources and work with health professionals to effectively convey these messages to families.”

Professor Helen Ball, Director of Basis and the Durham Infancy & Sleep Centre said:

Many new parents nowadays are unfamiliar with SIDS and the reasons for having infant sleep safety guidance. The aim of these new resources is to increase parental awareness and understanding.”

The Lullaby Trust, Public Health England, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative and Basis recognise that parents will sometimes sleep with their baby and give some key guidance for safer bed sharing.

  • Keep the space around your baby clear of pillows and duvets
  • Always sleep your baby on their back
  • Avoid letting pets or other children in the bed
  • Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall
  • Never leave baby alone in the bed

You should never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair, this increases the risk of SIDS by 50 times.

It is important to know there are some circumstances where it is dangerous to share a bed with your baby. You should not do so if:

  • Either you or anyone in the bed smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • Either you or anyone in the bed has recently drunk any alcohol
  • You or anyone in the bed has taken any drugs that make you feel sleepy
  • Your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or weighed under 2.5kg or 5½ lbs when they were born

For more information on safer sleep for your baby, download the free guide here.