Cot death charity issues warning about some popular baby sleeping products sold in high street stores

The Lullaby Trust has warned that some popular sleeping products for babies do not conform to safer sleep guidelines. 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 babies under 12 months. Evidence shows that sleeping a baby on anything but a firm, flat surface, or using soft, heavy bedding, can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They can lead to overheating or potentially obstruct a baby’s airway if they roll or their face becomes covered by loose bedding


However, 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 it is very difficult for parents to know which products are safe for their baby.

About sudden infant death syndrome

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant where no cause is found after detailed post-mortem. We do not know what causes SIDS. For many babies, it is likely that a combination of factors affects them at a vulnerable stage of their development, which leads them to die suddenly and unexpectedly.

However, we do know you can significantly reduce the chance of SIDS occurring by following safer sleep advice. While SIDS cannot be completely prevented, you can reduce the risks of it occurring considerably by following our safer sleep advice:

  • Sleep your baby on their back for all periods of sleep – day and night – as this can reduce the risk of SIDS by six times compared to sleeping them on their front.
  • Share a room with your baby for the first six months – this can halve the risk of SIDS.
  • Sleep your baby on a firm, entirely flat, waterproof mattress
  • Keep your baby smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby as this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.
  • Do not share a bed with your baby if you or your partner has been drinking, is a smoker, has been taking drugs or is extremely tired or if your baby was premature or of low birth weight, as these babies are at a higher risk of SIDS.
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot.
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding

Confusion around product safety was highlighted by a recent survey of new and expectant parents commissioned by The Lullaby Trust. 91% of respondents stated compliance with safer sleep advice as 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. These items go against the advice that babies should sleep on a firm, entirely flat waterproof surface. Sleeping a baby on a soft surface can increase the risk of SIDS as they make it harder for babies to lose body heat and maintain a safe temperature.

As part of Safer Sleep Week (12th –18th 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.

Download the product* guide: 

Source: The Lullaby TrustSource: The Lullaby Trust

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust says:

“As a SIDS charity, we have watched with concern as products that go against safer sleep advice gain popularity. 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.

"When choosing sleep items for a baby there are actually just 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”

Essential for your birthing bag

Essentials for baby's first six weeks

Professor Viv Bennett, Director, Nursing at Public Health England (PHE) says

“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 information about safer sleeping”

The Lullaby Trust gives parents some key pieces of advice when choosing sleeping products:

  • Check whether items comply with British Standards and follow safer sleep guidelines
  • 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.



About the survey

The survey was commissioned by The Lullaby Trust and conducted online by Bounty during January 2018. A total of 2,833 of expectant parents and parents with children aged under 12 months participated in the survey. Back to where you were.

About Safer Sleep Week

Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s annual national awareness-raising campaign. Launched in 2015, Safer Sleep Week aims to make sure parents, carers and health professionals know the importance of safer sleep and are aware of how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Back to where you were.

About the product guide

The product guide supported by Public Health England is a resource aimed at helping parents know what to look for when buying items for a new or expected baby and to understand what the marketing actually means. The baby market has grown exponentially and continues to do so. The guide is intended to help parents navigate it and give them the confidence they are making the safest choices for their baby. Back to where you were.

About The Lullaby Trust

The Lullaby Trust provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies supports bereaved families and raises awareness on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Back to where you were.

As a charity, it takes a lot of effort to keep up-to-date and relevant. If you feel that we've helped you in some small way please consider texting DAD10 followed by a donation amount of either £5 or £10 to 70070*

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Guest Saturday, 17 March 2018