More than half of parents are unsure of the basic steps they can take to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a survey commissioned by charity the Lullaby Trust.
The survey of 500 parents with children aged 0-2 years found that, while most were aware of SIDS, there was confusion around a fundamental step to reduce the risk – sleeping a baby on its back for every sleep.
“Following the ABC’s as part of a baby’s routine is a simple way to help protect them from SIDS
The survey found 38% of parents were unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front and 55% were unsure whether to sleep a baby on their side.
The survey results represent a worrying indication that parents are still not equipped with the information they need to reduce the risk of SIDS, said the charity.
It highlighted that evidence showed that babies who were slept on their back for every sleep were six times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.
The Lullaby Trust noted that sleeping babies on their front was commonplace until the national “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1991.
That campaign, along with continued awareness raising over the past 25 years, has led to a widespread change in how parents sleep their babies. As a result, SIDS rates in the UK have fallen by 85% since 1991.
However, the charity said the rates could still be much lower and research had indicated that, if all parents followed safer sleep advice, the lives of many more babies could be saved.
The new survey results suggest that many parents are still not clear about safer sleep and more needs to be done to ensure all parents are aware of this life saving advice, said the charity.
From 13-19 March, the Lullaby Trust is running Safer Sleep Week to help parents make sense of the advice. It will be promoting the ABCs of safer sleep, across social media, in shopping centre baby change facilities and on screens in GP surgeries throughout England.
The ABCs are: ALWAYS sleep your baby on their BACK in a CLEAR cot or sleep space (free of bumpers, toys and pillows).
Lullaby Trust chief executive Francine Bates said that, 25 years after the Back to Sleep campaign, the survey results had “shown us we need to go back to basics”.
“Following the ABC’s as part of a baby’s routine for every sleep day and night is a simple way to help protect them from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and allow parents the peace of mind to enjoy this special time with their baby,” she added.