Six babies have died in the last 12 months in Northamptonshire after suffocating whil sleeping with a parent.
Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) says the figure is above average and is launching a campaign urging parents to ensure babies sleep in their own cot or Moses basket in the same room as them.
Carolyn Fox, director of midwifery at Northampton General Hospital, said: “Our midwives are huge advocates of physical contact between parents and babies because it’s so important for a newborn’s early development and emotional security.
We’re not for one moment suggesting that parents should reduce the amount of waking time they spend in close contact with their baby.
“But we can’t ignore the evidence before us, that in this county too many babies have died in circumstances where sleeping arrangements were not safe.”
Falling asleep holding your baby - whether in your bed, on a sofa or in an armchair – “places the baby in a perilous position”. Mrs Fox said.
She added “With a newborn, the tiredness can be overwhelming and you can find yourself nodding off when you feed or have a cuddle.
“So we’re particularly appealing to dads, grandparents and other family members – if you see that mum has fallen asleep with the baby, don’t leave them like that.
“In a cot, on their back, in your room – that’s the safest place for your baby.”
The Chron has reported on two inquests in 2015 where a babies from Abington and Duston died after co-sleeping - one on her mum’s shoulder on a sofa and another in the parent’s bed.
The “Safe Sleeping for your Baby” campaign recommends that:
- the safest place for babies and infants to sleep is in their own cot or Moses basket, and in the parent’s room for the first six months of life.
- babies should be gently put back onto their backs up to the age of six months and care should be taken that the baby does not overheat due to too many blankets or high room temperature.
-it is also advised that babies and infants should NEVER be left to sleep for long periods in travel systems or car seats.
Sleeping next to your baby, or co-sleeping, is one of the biggest causes of death for babies under a year old.
While parents may consider it to be a secure physical and emotional sleeping environment for their baby, sharing a sleep area with a baby can be extremely dangerous, teh NHS says, as it increases the child’s chances of dying by accidental suffocation.
Young babies have not developed the muscles in their necks to be able to move their heads or lift their head away from danger, even if they are not able to breathe.
Louisa Russell, of Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said “Every baby death is a tragedy, especially so when it may have been preventable.
“The Health Visitors in Northamptonshire visit all new babies and their parents at home around the eleventh day after their birth.
“At this time they give advice, support and information to ensure babies sleep safely.
Health Visitors are available to continue this support throughout the early months and years of a child’s life.
“Health Visitors, like everyone else are committed to preventing any more babies dying so tragically”.