Annual Review
Promoting safer sleep to help reduce sudden infant death
— Case study

Promoting safer sleep to help reduce sudden infant death

As part of the South West AHSN’s Perinatal Health Equity programme, we have supported The Lullaby Trust to develop a safer sleep resource. The material aims to facilitate supportive conversations about safer sleep between midwives or care professionals and parents or families who find themselves marginalised, or in challenging housing or domestic circumstances.  

Every year over  500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly and over half of those deaths remain unexplained. The Child Mortality and Social Deprivation Report, produced by the National Child Mortality Database in 2021, found that the risk of child death in England is linked to deprivation and the most common age at death was less than 1 year (63%).  In the South West of England, children are 2.9 times more likely to live in the lowest decile for deprivation.  The report also recognised the strong link between sudden, unexpected infant deaths (SIDS) and sleeping arrangements.

The Lullaby Trust has developed a safer sleep resource in the form of a poster. It can be used as a prompt to spot modifiable SIDS risks associated with living in disadvantaged home environments, and to explore suitable solutions with families to reduce individual infant risk.  

The South West AHSN advised on the language and layout used in the resource and then facilitated the piloting of the resource within the region, gathering feedback to develop the resource further.  

Following the pilot, we have supported the implementation of the resource into eight different settings across the South West including post-natal ward areas, Perinatal Mental Health Services, Community Midwifery, Health Visiting, Family Nurse Partnership, and charity/voluntary sector organisations. 

Using feedback from staff and parent groups, we have been able to introduce the resource to new partner organisations whose involvement on perinatal projects may not have been sought in the past, for example housing charities. 

mum with baby on sofa

Clinical Impact: 

Of the practitioners who took part in our evaluation: 

  • 100% reported understanding the resource and how to use it 
  • 100% reported feeling confident to have a conversation with a service user about safe sleep using the resource 
  • 100% agreed that the resource fits well into the support pathway for their service users 

Parent/carer impact: 

  • Parents reported being clear about what the conversation was for and what the key messages were.  
  • Many parents felt they already knew about many risk factors associated with their babies sleep but most acknowledged that they had not previously been aware of or thought about all the factors displayed in the picture. 
  • Parents also reported feeling more confident in safely managing their babies sleep as a result of the discussion with their practitioner 
"The resource has been a valuable tool, it enables me to have open discussions, and this gives me a chance to talk about each point in detail then guide them on to The Lullaby Trust website. Using the resource has given me the confidence to have some great informed discussions with new mums, dads, grandparents, auntie' and friends." 

Maternity Support Worker, South West

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