As part of Red Nose Day, NT Health is urging parents to learn to sleep babies and toddlers safely to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected deaths of children.
“In Australia, nine children still die suddenly and unexpectedly every day,” Alison Jarvis, a Midwifery Education Consultant at Royal Darwin Hospital, said.
“That’s more than 3,000 babies, toddlers and preschoolers every year – more than double the national road toll.”
“We are still losing them to stillbirth, SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome), and fatal sleeping accidents.”
Between 2014-2018 in the NT there were 23 cases of sudden unexpected infant deaths as well as 169 stillbirths and 87 neonatal newborn deaths.
“Since the introduction of strategies to reduce SIDS, including information to parents there has been an 85% reduction in SIDS deaths (data from 1989 to 2018). Statistically this equates to 10,857 babies saved in that time here in Australia,” Mrs Jarvis said.
Some important tips for parents for safe sleeping:
• Always sleep babies on their backs with their head and face uncovered.
• No pillows, cot bumpers, doonas or soft toys in the cot with the baby.
• The safest place for baby to sleep is in their own cot next to the parents’ bed.
• Keep baby in a smoke free environment.
“Covering baby’s head or face or sleeping a baby on the side or tummy increases the risk of sudden infant death. Use a safe baby sleeping bag with fitted neck and armholes and no hood or with blankets tucked in firmly with feet to bottom of cot,” Mrs Jarvis said.
“Use a mattress that is firm, clean, flat, and the right size for the cot with safe bedding with no pillows, no lamb’s wool, no doonas or no soft toys like a teddy.”
“Red Nose Australia, formerly SIDS and Kids, also provide support to parents after they have experienced a stillbirth or child or baby who has died through the Bereaved Parent Support group in the Northern Territory”, Mrs Jarvis said.
The first Red Nose Day, held in 1988, urged Australians to wear a red nose and be “silly for a serious cause, to help stop little lives being cut short”.