Urgent warning as 1 in 3 parents buy 'dangerous' baby sleep products on social media

PARENTS have been urged to not buy into social media sleep trends that could put their children at risk of death.

Around one in three parents has purchased a potentially dangerous item after being influenced on social media, new data has revealed.

These items include cot bumpers, cuddly toys, ill-fitted sheets and fluffy blankets.

Baby charity The Lullaby Trust found that of more than 4,600 new and expectant parents, 67 per cent follow celebrities and influencers who have babies.

Around half of those who follow influencers stated they do so for parenting tips and baby product recommendations.

But the charity has warned that these recommendations, which are also often aesthetically pleasing, could increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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While the cause of SIDS is not known, you can reduce the risk by following safe sleep advice.

This includes sleeping your baby on their back, not co-sleeping with your baby, not sleeping on a sofa or arm chair and keeping a smoke-free environment.

You should also avoid placing unnecessary items in a baby's cot or sleep environment.

As part of the charity's Safer Sleep Week campaign, it is urging parents to be wary of posts they see on social media.

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The survey found that one in three parents have purchased a baby sleep product such as cot bumpers and baby pillows, after seeing them on Instagram and Facebook.

Around 94 per cent of parents said that they are aware that babies need a firm sleep surface, in order to reduce the risk of SIDS.

But the same survey showed that 40 per cent of parents have a positive view of sleep pods or nests after seeing them advertised on social media.

However, the charity said that these items don't fit with sleep safe advice as they are not a firm, flat surface.

Surfaces that are not flat and that are soft make it harder for babies to lose body heat and maintain a safe temperature.  

The charity advises that you don't purchase sleep pods or nests, as well as pillows, duvets or thick heavy bedding for your baby.

Items such as cot bumpers and hammocks are also advised against.

These can be used for decoration but should not be used when the baby is in the cot.

Jenny Ward, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust says the charity has watched with concern as many social media images of babies in worrying sleep environments have become increasingly popular.

What is SIDS and how can you prevent it?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant where no cause is found after a detailed post mortem.

The cause is not clear, and for many babies many babies it is likely that a combination of factors affect them at a vulnerable stage of their development, which leads them to die suddenly and unexpectedly.  

Following safer sleep advice can reduce the risk.

Here are some tips that can help prevent SIDS:

  • Sleep your baby on their back for all sleeps – day and night – as this can reduce the risk of SIDS by six times compared to sleeping them on their front.  
  • Share a room with your baby for the first six months – this can halve the risk of SIDS.  
  • Keep your baby smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth – this is one of the most protective things you can do for your baby. Around 60% of sudden infant deaths could be avoided if no baby was exposed to smoke during pregnancy or around the home.  
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby as this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.  
  • Do not co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner has been drinking, is a smoker or has been taking drugs; these factors can put babies at an extremely high risk of SIDS when co-sleeping. One study found that the risk of SIDS when co-sleeping is six times higher in smokers than in non-smokers. 

Source: The Lullaby Trust

She added: "Pictures of cots filled with cot bumpers, fluffy blankets and cuddly toys might be nice to look at, but in reality aren’t recommended for babies to sleep in.

"It is vitally important that parents are aware of advice on how to sleep their baby safely. 

"However, images of babies sleeping this way could influence parents to do the same and not follow safer sleep advice.

"All your baby needs is to be placed on their back in a clear space such as a cot, Moses basket with firmly tucked-in sheets and blankets or a baby sleeping bag."

She added that if all parents had access to this information more lives could be saved.

In order to promote safer sleep, mum and influencer Jacqueline Jossa is encouraging parents to share their safe sleep environments, using the hashtag #letskeep it clear.

The former Queen of the jungle said she had lost two brothers, one to SIDS.

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It's because of this that spreading safer sleep advice is important to her.

She added: "As an avid user of social media, I believe ‘Instagram v Reality’ is a brilliant theme to highlight that not all styled-up images of babies sleeping spaces seen on Instagram are necessarily safe spaces and to encourage parents up and down the country to #letskeepitclear".

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