Many popular sleeping products for babies do not conform to safer sleep guidelines, a baby charity has warned. Items such as cushioned sleeping pods, nests, baby hammocks, cot bumpers, pillows, duvets and anything that wedges or straps a baby in place can pose a risk to children under 12 months.
The Lullaby Trust said many of these products are created by trusted brands and can be found in well-known high-street stores. Additionally, a number of manufacturers “make inaccurate claims about the safety of their products” and, as there are no safety standards that relate to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it is very difficult for parents to know which products are safe for their baby.
As part of Safer Sleep Week (12 - 18 March), The Lullaby Trust has issued guidance supported by Public Health England to help new and expectant parents make safer choices when deciding on sleeping products for their baby.
“We have watched with concern as products that go against safer sleep advice gain popularity,” said Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust. ”It is hard for parents when they are trying to choose from the overwhelming number of baby products on offer and many people make the reasonable assumption that if an item is sold on the high street or made by a recognised brand it is safe for their baby.”
The charity explained that evidence shows that putting a baby down to sleep on anything other than a firm, flat surface, or using soft, heavy bedding, can increase the risk of SIDS, as it can lead to overheating or potentially obstruct a baby’s airway if they roll over or their face becomes covered.
Confusion around product safety was highlighted by a recent survey of 2,833 new and expectant parents with children aged under 12 months, commissioned by The Lullaby Trust; 91% of respondents stated compliance with safer sleep advice was a “very important consideration” when buying a product. However, the same survey also showed 41% of parents have bought or are planning to buy a baby sleep nest or pod.
Bates continued: “When choosing sleep items for a baby there are a few key essentials parents need and it isn’t necessary to spend a fortune on lots of products or choose more expensive brands. We have produced a product guide and accompanying resources to help parents feel confident in knowing what to look for when choosing sleep items for their baby”
Professor Viv Bennett, director of nursing at PHE supports the warning by The Lullaby Trust, and said: “Ensuring parents have the correct information to keep their baby safe is crucial, this resource will help parents when choosing equipment or products for their baby. We would always encourage parents to discuss any concerns or queries with their midwife or health visitor who can offer advice and sign post to information about safer sleeping”
The Lullaby Trust has three key pieces of advice when choosing sleeping products:
:: Check whether items comply with British Standards and follow safer sleep guidelines. The product should have a Kitemark if it complies with British Standards - this will be found on the packaging, label or on the product’s website. Find out more here.
:: Avoid soft heavy bedding such as pillows and duvets.
:: Check that anything you buy for your baby to sleep on is firm, waterproof and entirely flat with no raised or cushioned areas.