Researchers examined more than 10,000 infant deaths from 2004 to 2014 and found that 1,375 cases (13.1%) occurred during the absence of a parent. They found infants who died of sleep-related causes under non-parental supervision were less likely to be placed in the “supine” position - lying horizontally with their face and torso facing up.
Among the babies who died under non-parental supervision, those supervised by relatives or friends were more often placed on an adult bed or couch for sleep and were more likely to have objects in their sleep environment. The researchers urged paediatricians to educate parents that all caregivers must always follow safe sleep practices.
“If someone else - a babysitter, relative, or friend - is taking care of your baby, please make sure they know to place your baby on the back in a crib and without any bedding,” said Dr. Rachel Moon of the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Dr Moon added: “It’s always best to discuss where and how your baby should sleep. You can’t make assumptions that the person with whom your baby is staying will know what is safest.”
So if you’re leaving your baby with a family member or friend for the first time, what should you ensure they know before you leave the house? Kate Holmes, support and information manager at The Lullaby Trust told HuffPost UK: “Whether caring for your own baby, or babysitting a friend or relative’s little one, it’s important that you’re aware of the risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While SIDS is rare, it’s important that anyone taking care of an infant knows the safer sleep practices that reduce the chance of SIDS occurring.”
The Lullaby Trust advised that parent should make sure all babysitters are aware to:
:: Place the baby on his or her back.
:: Put the baby (if aged 0-6 months) to sleep in their own cot or Moses basket in the same room as where you are for both day and night-time sleeps.
:: Avoid letting the baby get too hot.
:: Don’t cover the baby’s face while sleeping or use loose bedding.
:: Keep cot as clear as possible, with no pillows, duvets, cot bumpers, soft toys or baby products.
The charity suggested parents could pass on their Easy Read cards that encourage safer sleep.