Babies and children

Sofas can be deadly for babies

Sofas can be deadly for babies Increases risk of 'cot death'

At least 25 babies in the UK have died while sleeping together with an adult on a sofa in the last two years, new figures show.

The figures, have been collected for the first time from some of the newly-established Child Death Overview Panels as well as the Metropolitan Police.

Cot death charity, the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) say the figures confirm that parents are still choosing one of the most dangerous places in the home to sleep with their babies.

Previous studies have demonstrated that falling asleep with your infant on a sofa increases their risk of dying suddenly and unexpectedly by 50 fold.

FSID and the Department of Health’s advice for all parents remains that the safest place for a baby to sleep, for the first six months, is in a separate cot in a room with you.

FSID’s director, Joyce Epstein, said: “This information confirms that warnings about the dangers of sofa sharing with small babies have not changed parents’ practices, infants still sleep in risky environments.

" More lives could be saved, if every parent, carer and grandparent recognised that while a sofa may be a comfortable place for them to sleep it’s the most dangerous place for a baby.”

To reduce the risk of cot death the charity advises:

  • Cut smoking in pregnancy – fathers too! And don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby
  • Place your baby on the back to sleep (and not on the front or side)
  • Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep your baby’s head uncovered.
  • Place your baby with their feet to the foot of the cot, to prevent them wriggling down under the covers
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair
  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months
  • Breastfeed your baby. Establish breastfeeding before starting to use a dummy
  • Settling your baby to sleep (day and night) with a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death, even if the dummy falls out while your baby is asleep

They also say it's particularly dangerous for a baby to sleep in your bed if you (or your partner), are a smoker, even if you never smoke in bed or at home, have been drinking alcohol, take medication or drugs that make you drowsy, feel very tired or or if your baby was born before 37 weeks, weighed less than 2.5kg or 5½ lbs at birth.

FSID has a freephone helpline for parents and professionals seeking advice on safe baby care 0808 802 6868

The helpline also supports bereaved families. Advice for parents and professionals can also be found at Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths

This article was published on Thu 27 May 2010

Image © Nixie -

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