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Safe sleeping – supporting parents - Wendy Nicholson

This week it is the Lullaby Trust’s ‘Safer sleeping’  week –  the week aims to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and  evidenced advice on how parents  can reduce the risk of it occurring. SIDS is multi-factorial. However, ensuring parents have the most recent evidence available can help to maintain the momentum in decreasing the number of babies dying.

Sleeping and indeed safe sleeping is an issue parents often have many questions and concerns about.   Sleep and establishing good sleeping patterns is essential to the developing baby. Parents want to ensure their baby sleeps well and is safe. PHE have been working with Lullaby Trust to provide advice to parents about safe sleeping topics, including what to be aware of when purchasing or accepting new baby products as gifts.

It is very difficult for parents to know which products are safe for their baby.   Confusion around product safety was highlighted by a recent survey of new and expectant parents commissioned by the Lullaby Trust.  91% of  parents  who responded stated compliance with safer sleep advice was a very important consideration when buying a product.

As part of Safer Sleep Week (11th 18th March), PHE have teamed up with Lullaby Trust to  develop guidance to help new and expectant parents make safer choices when deciding on sleeping products for their baby. The guidance can be downloaded here . It aims to provide parents with  some key pieces of advice when choosing sleeping products.

Many parents will seek advice from health care professionals about sleeping and safety, particularly if they have concerns. Health visitors, midwives and general practice nurses are well placed to provide advice. Being aware of and sign posting to the product guide will be crucial in terms of promoting safety and allaying fears or anxieties.

Discussions with parents about safe sleeping are a part of maternity care, both antenatal and post-natal, as is the support offered by health visitors. We know health visitors and midwives are a trusted resource for parents, so we hope they will use the guide to promote healthy, safe choices. Health visitors and midwives are crucial in supporting a healthy pregnancy, safe birth and support for health and wellbeing for both the parents and child, including support for a healthy weight during pregnancy, smoke free pregnancy and breast feeding – all of which can reduce the risk of SIDS.

For more information on choosing baby sleep products or to download the product guide visit:

Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s annual national awareness-raising campaign. It aims to make sure parents, carers and health professionals know the importance of safer sleep and are aware of how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The campaign runs 11-18 March 2018. For more information visit

Wendy Nicholson is the Nursing Lead for Children, Young People and Families at Public Health England

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