Shock. Sympathy. Irrevocable sadness.
Those are just three of the deep-seeded emotions dredged up upon discovering that children in Australia – perhaps one you know – have died while co-sleeping with their parents.
Tragically, this is an unimaginable reality Shelby Sands is forced to live with for the rest of her life after falling asleep with her daughter Deleilah in the same bed. (The 19-year-old mum went to sleep after a night out only to found her darling daughter face down on top of her bed the following morning.)
We’re not here to point fingers, but the co-sleeping statistics in Australia are alarmingly telling. According to research collated by Red Nose, 44 per cent of babies who have died suddenly and unexpectedly in this country were sharing a sleep surface with one or more people at the time of their death.
What is the safe way of putting a baby to sleep?
In order to minimise the risks of fatal sleeping accidents, make sure you…
- Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
- Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
- Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding, safe environment)
- Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
What can sleepy, breast-feeding mums do to keep their babies safe?
According to Red Nose, sleep-deprived parents are at a higher risk of falling asleep while breastfeeding. Commit these safe methods of breastfeeding to memory, stat:
- Nap while the baby is sleeping, don’t try to be more productive when your baby is sleeping if you are already feeling fatigued
- Be aware that alcohol and medications that have a sedative effect can make you drowsy. If you are already feeling sleep deprived even one drink can make you drowsy, especially if you drink during one of your low-energy times. The safest option when breastfeeding is to avoid drinking alcohol altogether, however if you do want to enjoy an alcoholic drink, plan ahead to ensure you don’t feel lethargic when you are due to breastfeed baby
- Avoid breastfeeding in bed as you are more likely to fall asleep
- Use a breastfeeding chair and always stay sitting upright
To learn more about what you can do to keep your baby safe from sudden and unexpected death, visit Red Nose’s website for more information.