Popular sleeping products could be endangering babies' lives, a cot death charity has warned.
The Lullaby Trust has published a list of items which can pose a risk to babies under 12 months.
It says goods made by trusted brands which "make inaccurate claims about the safety of their products" and sold in well-known high street stores are among those which do not conform to safer sleep guidelines.
It has now published a product guide supported by Public Health England (PHE) to help parents know what to look for when buying items for a new or expected baby.
The charity's chief executive said it was a "concern" to see items which can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) gain in popularity.
According to experts, 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, says The Lullaby Trust.
These items can cause pose a risk to babies under 12 months
- Cushioned sleeping pods
- Baby hammocks
- Cot bumpers
- Anything that wedges or straps a baby in place
Source: The Lullaby Trust
The Lullaby Trust provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies, supports bereaved families and raises awareness on SIDS.
It also supports research which aims to understand why babies die suddenly and unexpectedly and to find out more about how to prevent these tragic deaths.
Addressing the potentially hazardous products, it 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, it is very difficult for parents to know which products are safe for their baby."
This confusion was highlighted in a survey it commissioned among new and expectant parents.
It showed 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.
This is despite safer sleep advice that babies should sleep on a firm, entirely flat waterproof surface, as a soft surface can increase the risk of SIDS.
To mark Safer Sleep Week, which runs from Monday to Sunday (March 12-18), The Lullaby Trust is issuing guidance supported by PHE to help new and expectant parents make safer choices when deciding on sleeping products for their baby.
As well as providing advice on buying safe products, the guide also aims to help parents to understand what the marketing actually means, how to navigate the booming baby market and help mums and dads navigate it, and give them the confidence they are making the safest choices for their child.
The charity's chief executive, Francine Bates, said: "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."
She said it as not necessary for parents to spend a fortune on products and added: "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 from PHE added: "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 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.
The Lullaby Trust's guide to buying safer sleep essentials can be found here.
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