North Northamptonshire Council could spend £15,000 promoting safer sleeping after recent examples of deaths caused by co-sleeping

The authority is advertising for a contractor to run a ‘safer sleeping social marketing campaign’
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A council could spend up to £15,000 on a campaign to promote safer sleeping with babies after errors led to at least one baby’s death in Northamptonshire.

North Northants Council is advertising for a contractor to run a ‘safer sleeping social marketing campaign’ from June until the end of September.

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A baby in the county was accidentally smothered by its mother in June 2020.

North Northants CouncilNorth Northants Council
North Northants Council

They had been co-sleeping in a double bed and the woman had drunk heavily and taken cocaine the night before.

A report into the way agencies dealt with that case was published by the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP) in March.

Another published by the NSCP earlier this month found a six-week-old baby boy had injuries ‘not inconsistent’ with co-sleeping when he died in November 2021. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

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In NNC’s document, it said that in 2019 about 200 babies and young children died of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) and/or sudden infant death death syndrome (SIDS).

While the NHS said the figure ‘may sound alarming’, it is ‘rare’ and the risk of any baby dying from it is low. But it said there is an association between sleeping with babies on a sofa or chair and SIDS.

To help prevent SIDS, parents are told to always place their baby on their back to sleep and to keep their head uncovered.

Parents should also allow the baby to sleep in the same room as them for the first six months and make sure there are no pillows or duvets near the baby if they share a bed with them.

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Parents are told not to share a bed if they take recreational drugs, smoke, have had more than two units of alcohol or have taken medicine that causes drowsiness.

They should also not sleep on a sofa or armchair with the baby, allow them to get too hot or cold and must not share a bed with the baby if they weighed under 2.5kg when they were born.

The council’s public health team said: “New parents today may not be aware of SIDS as the rates have decreased since the 80s and 90s, therefore it is important to explain what SIDS is and why safe sleep is important.”

The authority said the campaign must be ‘clear, succinct, accessible and friendly’ so parents have the ‘information required to make informed decisions about what they feel is best for their child’.