A CAMPAIGN to prevent babies and infants dying prematurely has been launched in Hampshire.

The Solent NHS Trust has launched the Safe Sleeping for Babies care programme, aimed at educating parents about the ways to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome – also known as cot death.

In the UK, at least 300 babies die suddenly every year – most during the first three months – and the majority happen while they are asleep in their cot.

The campaign has the backing of The Lullaby Trust, which supports bereaved families and promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep.

It advises parents to make sure that they place their baby in a separate cot in the same room as them in the first six months of parenthood, to make sure that they use a firm, flat waterproof mattress that is in good condition and to always place a baby on their back with their feet at the bottom of the cot when they go to sleep.

Other advice to reduce the risk of sudden infant death include keeping smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth, and breastfeeding a baby.

The campaign advises parents to never sleep on a sofa or armchair with a baby, and not to sleep in the same bed with a baby if you smoke, take drugs, or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight.

It also asks parents to ensure their baby does not get too hot, and warns them to not cover a baby’s face or head while sleeping, or use loose bedding.

Lead health visitor for safe sleeping in Southampton, Diane Massey, said: “When we travel to friends and family this holiday season it can be tempting to choose to sleep with your baby on you, or to put your baby in your bed when you have been drinking alcohol.

“It is important to remember to act as if you were at home when you are in a different environment.”