Professor Ian Sinha, a consultant respiratory paediatrician at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, has said clinic staff have started giving advice to parents to ensure babies are kept safe as the weather gets colder.
“We’ve had to say ‘Look, don’t wrap your baby up in lots of layers’ because we know that that is a risk for cot death, and pre-term infants are already at higher risk,” he says.
“We’ve had to say ‘Try not to sleep in bed with your baby’.
“People are saying ‘Well, let’s all cuddle together that will keep us warm’ – again, one of the key risk factors for cot deaths.
“So the way that we’re thinking about this winter is very much in terms of the most grave consequences, and we worry that this will either catch up with infants now or in the future.”
Professor Sinha was speaking during a briefing to launch a report on fuel poverty, which calls on the Government to prevent a “significant humanitarian crisis with millions of children’s development blighted”.
The solution to cold housing is supporting families so they have enough money to pay for heating, he added.
Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust also offered guidance to parents in a bid to ensure they received safe and appropriate advice.
While wrapping up babies in the cold winter months is important, they added that parents need to be careful they don’t overheat or that layers are so heavy they struggle to breathe due to the weight on their chest.
Elsewhere, the NHS recommends that the safest place for a baby to sleep in their first six months is in a cot in the same room as them, to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Parents who choose to share a bed with their baby can do this more safely by keeping pillows and duvets away from the baby, ensuring the child lies face-up on a firm, flat mattress, and not having other children or pets in the bed.
The Lullaby Trust says that babies should sleep in a well-fitting baby sleeping bag or with well-fitting sheets and blankets that are tucked in, and that duvets, quilts and pillows should never be used in the first year.
It adds that a room temperature of 16-20C is ideal for sleeping babies, and that parents should add an extra layer of clothing if they think their child is too cool.
The guidance comes just weeks after an Office for National Statistics (ONS) poll found that nearly half of British adults admitted they are struggling to afford their energy bills, which are expected to spike this autumn.
Ofgem confirmed a staggering 80 per cent rise in the energy price cap last week, sending the average household’s yearly bill from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.
As the cost of living crisis worsens, the study found that 45 per cent of the country’s adults are already having difficulty making ends meet.
Charity leaders have warned that the energy price hike will “cost lives” and leave children hungry.