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25 November 2013

Season prompts reminder to sleep babies safely

With the holiday and festive seasons fast approaching, parents, carers and families of infants are being urged to adopt safe sleeping practices at all times when putting their babies to sleep.

Graeme Boardley, Executive Director of Midwifery, Nursing and Patient Support Services at King Edward Memorial Hospital, said that families spending time away from home, in either holiday accommodation or the homes of friends or other family members, need to be especially mindful of their baby's sleeping arrangements.

"Recent research has shown us that the risk of sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI), which includes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) increases when the baby sleeps at a location other than their usual place of sleep so it is important that parents remain vigilant at all times," he said.

There are six ways that parents and carers can reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy. These are:

  1. Sleep baby on back.
  2. Keep baby's head and face uncovered.
  3. Keep baby smoke free before and after birth.
  4. Safe sleeping environment night and day.
  5. Sleep baby in a safe cot in parent's room.
  6. Breastfeed baby.

Not all women are able to breastfeed but mothers can still do the best for their babies by following the other five safe-sleeping practices.

Mr Boardley urged parents to ensure that anybody who cared for their baby, such as a relative or babysitter, is made aware of the recommended practices.

These practices and other information on minimising the risk of sleep-related death in infancy are captured in a new WA Health Safe Infant Sleeping brochure

Mr Boardley co-chaired a Safe Sleep Working Group, which recently strengthened government initiatives to reduce the risk of SUDI. The group was made up of representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organisations including government and non-government agencies and community organisations.

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