Safer sleep advice for parents during colder months


The colder months can be difficult for families, with many parents and guardians concerned about trying to keep their home and young babies warm.

However, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding parents and guardians with young babies of the importance of following safer sleep advice to reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

Emily Roberts, Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children at the PHA, said: “It is really important to keep your baby’s sleep environment safe throughout the winter months, especially when there may be temptations to add more blankets or to bring very young babies into bed with you for extra heat.

“First and foremost, for the first six months the safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot or moses basket in the same room as you, even during daytime naps. Remember to place your baby on their back with feet touching the bottom of the cot.

“Whilst we understand it can be tempting to wrap your baby up to keep them warm, we know that overheating a baby increases the chances of sudden infant death. Research shows babies are better to be cooler rather than overheated, so please bear that in mind.

“We know that babies are unable to fully regulate their body temperature so keep an eye on room temperature and adjust their bedding or sleepwear accordingly.

“It is normal for your baby’s hands and feet to feel slighter cooler than the rest of their body. If you think they are too hot or cold check how warm they are by feeling the back of their neck.”

Advice to follow:

  • Sheets and blankets should be firmly tucked in (no higher than the shoulders) to avoid the risk of your baby’s head becoming covered by loose bedding. Babies’ heads are an important way for them to lose heat and prevent them from becoming overheated.
  • Duvets should not be used for babies under 12 months. If you think your baby is cold, add an extra blanket or layer of clothing to your baby, unless using a sleeping bag.
  • If you are using a baby sleeping bag, do not be tempted to add extra blankets on top of this. Choose a different tog for the different seasons. If you think your baby is cold add an extra layer of clothing. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the baby sleeping bag that you choose.

A high proportion of infants who die as a result of sudden infant death are found with their head covered by loose bedding. Keep all loose bedding or any other items that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat away from your baby. Don’t be tempted to put your baby to sleep under adult bedding to keep them warm. It is also important to remember that when babies feel unwell, with a cold or fever, they may be warmer than usual and therefore need to have the opportunity to lower their body temperature – the best way to do this is to put fewer layers on and not overwrap them. If your baby shows signs of being significantly unwell or you are concerned about them, you should seek medical advice.

Please remember:

Emily continued: “By following some simple steps as part of a sleep-time routine, they’ll become second nature and help reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

“If you have any questions, no matter how small or trivial you might think they are, talk to your health visitor who can provide practical advice.”

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