The charity has cautioned that celebrities need to be mindful of the influence they have on parents and consumers. Showing babies sleeping in situations that could increase the risk of SIDS normalises unsafe practices.
Jenny Ward Acting Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust says:
“In the age of social media, celebrities have more influence than ever over parents and consumers. When it comes to sharing images of their babies, it is important for them to keep in mind that their photos might be unintentionally promoting unsafe practices or products.
Around 5 babies a week die of SIDS in the UK and the latest available figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that number went up in 2016. It is vitally important that parents are aware of advice on how to sleep their baby safely, if all parents had access to this information many lives could be saved. However, images depicting celebrities sleeping their babies unsafely give mixed messages to parents and make this task much more difficult.”
Some celebrity baby photos feature products that are not recommended such as pods or nests. Many of these products are available on the high street but do not comply with evidence-based safer sleep advice. For safer sleep, babies should be laid on their back on a firm, flat mattress without cushioned or raised areas or anything that straps or holds a baby in position. Pillows, cot bumpers and soft bulky bedding also pose a risk to babies and should be avoided. Sleeping babies on soft surfaces can cause overheating, which is a risk factor for SIDS, or can potentially obstruct a baby’s airway if they roll.
Jenny Ward continues
“It is known that products featured in celebrity photos tend to become popular with consumers. Parents are already faced with an overwhelming number of baby products and working out what to buy for a new baby can be difficult and confusing. Many people make the reasonable assumption that if an item is used by a celebrity and sold on the high street it is okay for their baby. However, we know that this is not always the case.”
The Lullaby Trust has long campaigned for the media to portray babies sleeping safely to give positive examples to parents and avoid confusion. The prevalence of photos from influential people on social media and in the press depicting unsafe baby sleep such as babies sleeping on their front or side, on soft surfaces, in hats and with items in their cot does much to undermine safer sleep advice.
While the cause of SIDS is not known, evidence shows there are steps parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS occurring. The Lullaby Trust advises all parents to:
- Always place baby on their back to sleep
- Keep the cot clear of pillows, cot bumpers, or any loose, excessive or bulky bedding
- Place baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months
- Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition
- Keep baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
- Never cover baby’s head or face while sleeping
- Do not co-sleep if you smoke, have drunk alcohol or taken medication that may make you less aware or if your baby was premature or of low birth weight
For more advice on safer sleep for babies visit www.lullabytrust.org.uk