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Safer sleep guidance issued to help healthcare staff support parents with young babies

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A guide to help health professionals speak to parents about safer sleep has been produced in a bid to reduce sudden infant death syndrome.

To mark Safer Sleep week, a range of resources has been produced for health professionals and parents in a drive to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome.

“We know that it may be difficult to have open conversations about the risks of bed sharing when talking to parents about safe sleeping”

Wendy Nicholson

It is the result of a partnership between the Lullaby Trust charity, Public Health England, Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative and Basis (Baby Sleep Info Source, Durham University).

As part of the initiative, specific staff guidance has been created to help support professionals to have effective conversations about safer sleep, with parents.

The professional’s guide works to emphasise the importance of having open, non-judgemental conversations with parents about helping their babies to sleep safely, including bed sharing and offers suggestions for having those sometimes-difficult discussions.

Under the initiative, a separate guide for parents has also been created and contains new safer sleep information and resources which will be provided by health professionals, supported by all four organisations.

“These important new resources will support health professionals’ conversations with parents who might share a bed with their baby”

Wendy Nicholson

Safer Sleep week is the Lullaby Trust’s national awareness campaign to help anyone looking after a young baby.

The charity, which works to prevent unexpected deaths in infancy and promote infant health, uses this week to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome and the proven advice on how parents can reduce the risk of it occurring.

Jenny Ward, chief executive officer of the charity explained that despite a decline in the number of SIDS deaths over the past 25 years, there has been a recent rise in rates. Ms Ward said that this increase “demonstrates the importance of all parents having access to safer sleep information”.

“Around five babies still die of SIDS every week in the UK,” she said. “This partnership will save lives by ensuring more parents receive and understand information on how to reduce the risk of SIDS.”

Wendy Nicholson, national for lead nurse, children, young people and families at Public Health England, said: “We know that it may be difficult to have open conversations about the risks of bed sharing when talking to parents about safe sleeping.

Queen's Nursing Institute

Wendy Nicholson

Wendy Nicholson

“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,” she said.

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,” she added. 

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