Many sleep images of babies on social media could put them at risk warns charity

Baby charity The Lullaby Trust is warning families that some popular baby sleeping products promoted on social media do not conform to safer sleep advice and could potentially put babies at risk.

The survey of over 4,600 new and expectant parents found 67% of parents follow celebrities and influencers who have babies. Just over half of those who follow influencers stated they do so for parenting tips and/or baby product recommendations. As content shared online can greatly influence new parents, The Lullaby Trust’s Safer Sleep Week campaign this year urges more examples of safer sleep images to be shared across social media platforms.

Worryingly, over 1 in 3 parents (37%) have bought a baby sleep product which doesn’t fit with safer sleep advice, including cot bumpers and baby pillows after seeing them on their Instagram and Facebook feeds.

In the survey, 94% of parents told The Lullaby Trust they understood that sleep surfaces that aren’t firm or flat can increase the risk of SIDS.  However, the same survey also showed that 40% have a positive view of baby sleep pods and nests after seeing them online. These items which are often depicted on social media as sleeping spaces for babies do not fit with safer sleep advice that babies should sleep on a firm, entirely flat waterproof surface. Sleeping a baby on a soft surface can increase the risk of SIDS as they make it harder for babies to lose body heat and maintain a safe temperature.

Jenny Ward, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust says:  ‘“As a SIDS charity, we have watched with concern as many social media images of babies in worrying sleep environments have become increasingly popular. 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.  If all parents had access to this information more lives could be saved.”

As part of Safer Sleep Week (14-20 March) The Lullaby Trust is reminding families that not all images on social media are good examples of safer sleep. By promoting simple and easy-to-follow safer sleep messages on social media, more families can access advice on how to sleep their baby safely and reduce the risk of SIDS.

The charity is also working with influencers and parent content creators, including EastEnders star, ‘I’m a Celebrity’ 2019 queen of the jungle and mother, Jacqueline Jossa, to promote the importance of safer sleep imagery on social media and to encourage parents to share their own baby’s safer sleep space with the hashtag #letskeepitclear.

Jacqueline Jossa, a supporter for The Lullaby Trust says: “The Lullaby Trust is a charity very close to my heart. My sister and I sadly lost two brothers – one to SIDS, so spreading their vital safer sleep advice for babies is really important to me. I’m looking forward to supporting The Lullaby Trust with this year’s innovative Safer Sleep Week campaign. 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

“I also hope influencers and celebrities will see the ‘Instagram v Reality’ theme as an opportunity for them to have a positive impact by sharing safer sleep images of their babies and key advice with their followers, to help to reduce the risk of SIDS,” Jacqueline added.

For more information on safer sleep visit www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/

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