Sheffield Dads targeted in Safer Sleep Week campaign

Written by Lydia Kerin

MA Journalism Student at The University of Sheffield.

This year’s national Safer Sleep Week campaign (15-21 March) targets new and expectant dads, as a survey shows less than a third are shown how to safely sleep their baby and lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found. Launched by The Lullaby Trust, Safer Sleep Week offers families potentially life-saving advice for sleeping their infants. It is supported by and promoted in Sheffield by the Baby Basics charity as part of their Baby Safe campaign in partnership with the NHS.

Sheffield City Council have expressed their support for the campaign.

Stephen Green, a Senior Parenting Practitioner at Sheffield City Council and Baby Safe Champion, said: “There is so much to learn as a new parent that it can be overwhelming.

“By following safer sleep guidance for every sleep, parents can be reassured they are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

“It’s really important that dads have access to all of this advice too, as consistency is so important for babies.

“In our parenting programmes, available through Sheffield Parenting Hub, we try to be as inclusive as possible to make sure that dads and male carers are getting all the help and support they need.”

In Sheffield, new or expectant parents can contact their local Family Centre for support and advice on safer sleeping. Every Moses Basket or Cot given out by Baby Basics Sheffield always has a new mattress provided to help with safer sleep.

The campaign is designed to work with Dads, to better understand how to reach them and deliver information in a way which will be helpful to them.

The Lullaby Trust’s survey of over 500 new and expectant dads found less than a quarter had been able to attend all antenatal appointments and over 50% have not been allowed to attend any at all.

This has meant anxiety surrounding SIDS is high amongst Dads, with 74% stating they are “worried” or “very worried” about it.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show rates of SIDS grew in 2018 by 7% compared to the previous year, an increase which will likely be exacerbated by the pandemic.

Such results are a concerning indication that lockdown restrictions combined with the increased pressure placed on public health services by COVID-19 means less support and information for new parents, which is putting babies at risk.

A parliamentary report released in summer 2020 from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss stated that lockdown had increased risk factors for some types of baby loss, including sudden unexpected death in infancy.

Parents can find further advice on The Lullaby Trust website, which includes vital information such as the best position for babies to sleep in and other guidance that can reduce the risk of SIDS.

Written by Lydia Kerin

MA Journalism Student at The University of Sheffield.

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