Safer sleep for babies

Safer Sleep WeekMeeting and getting to know your baby is an extremely exciting and rewarding time. It’s also the beginning of a new relationship. Babies need a lot of sleep during the first few months of their lives so it’s important to ensure that they are sleeping as safely as possible.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby where no cause is found. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring.

Although we don’t yet know how to completely prevent SIDS, it is possible to significantly lower the chances of it happening by following the advice opposite. You should try to follow the advice for all sleep periods where possible, not just at night.

This guide lists the essential things you can do, or avoid doing, to help lower the chance of SIDS and explains why they are so important. You can also talk to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions or concerns, or get in touch with us.

Things you can do…

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Breastfeed your baby, if you can.
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months.
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition.

Things to avoid…

  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby.
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs or are extremely tired, or if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth weight.
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot.
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.


The Lullaby Trust, ‘Safer Sleep for babies: a Guide for Parents’,

Changes to rules for backless booster seats

Q954: I’ve heard that the rules in relation to backless booster seats for children have changed in 2017– is this true?

The UN have notified the Department for Transport that there are new rules for the manufacture of backless booster seats. The new rules mean that manufacturers aren’t allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg.

However, it’s important to realise that the change doesn’t affect existing models of seats or cushions and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re unsafe or illegal. Therefore, if you have such a seat, you can still use it and you won’t be breaking the law if you continue to use it. The change has been brought about because research indicates that hi-backed booster seats offer better protection than backless booster seats, especially in side impacts.

Note that if you’re about to buy a booster seat there may still be some of the older models available for sale. So if you want the new specification hi-backed booster seat, make sure you read the label and know what you’re buying. We would suggest you only buy from a reputable source and seek clarification from the shop if you need it.
‘Ask the Police’ (Police National Legal Database)

Smoke alarms don’t wake children – advice

Kent Fire and Rescue LogoNews that sleeping children are not woken by smoke alarms has prompted Kent Fire and Rescue Service to advise parents to wake children as part their fire escape plan.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Manager Colin King has said:

“Working smoke alarms save lives and their use has significantly contributed to the long-term downward trend in fire fatalities. They can provide valuable early warning of a fire, allowing families to get out, stay out and call 999, but it is also crucial that people test their smoke alarms once a week.

“However as this research indicates that some children may not wake to the sound of a smoke alarm; parents, guardians and responsible adults should ensure that they prepare an escape plan that includes waking and evacuating children as part of their plan.” (more…)

2 weeks left for primary school applications

Kent County CouncilYou must apply for a primary school place, by 16th January 2017, if:

  • l your child is due to start primary or infant school (reception year)
  • l your child is at infant school (year 2) and is due to start junior school (year 3)
  • l your child is at primary school (year 2) and you want your child to move to junior school at the start of year 3.
  • If your child is at infant school (year 2) and you want to apply for a year 3 place at a primary school (rather than a junior school) you must apply for an in year admission.

Apply for a school place:


Go to Kent Online Admissions

By post.

Once completed send to: The Primary Admissions Team, Room 2.20, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1XQ.

More information

For more information read the KCC guide to primary school places (PDF, 6.3 MB).

If you need advice call 03000 41 21 21 or email

Safer Sleeping campaign supports Kent parents

A new campaign is underway in Kent to support parents with young babies, offering vital safety advice to protect their children and reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Around 290 babies and toddlers die every year of SIDS in the UK. Each year in Kent, approximately nine babies under a year old die unexpectedly in their sleep.

Research has shown that several parental and infant care factors are more frequently associated with babies who die of SIDS. There are no obvious reasons for these deaths, but factors such as overheating and co-sleeping do increase the risk, so parents who follow the safer sleep advice can significantly lower the chances of this occurring.

The multi-agency Kent Safeguarding Children’s Board and partner organisations have developed innovative thermometer cards which will help parents understand the issues and monitor the temperature of the room in which their baby is sleeping. These are currently being given to parents with key safety messages by health visitors and midwives. Swale Health Visitor Tracey Methley-Keen believes it’s a vital support tool: “It’s really awful for parents when they are just so tired and struggling to get their baby to sleep that they decide to lay down with the baby or they wrap it up in lots of layers to avoid it waking up cold, especially at this time of year when the temperature drops.”

She added: “Many parents often don’t realise how dangerous this can be and we need to keep having the conversations to remind them – the thermometer cards are a valuable visual reminder and a great conversation prompt.” (more…)

ITL Sponsor Bright Sparks Award

Discovery park's Kimberley Anderson with fellow KM Bright Spark supporters

Discovery park’s Kimberley Anderson with fellow KM Bright Spark supporters

South Ashford based medical technology firm, ITL launched The KM Bright Spark Awards 2017 alongside fellow sponsors at Discovery Park, last week.

The community initiative, which aims to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), is a celebration of bright young minds. Entries are now open for student teams with exciting projects that feature cross-curricular collaborations in STEM subjects.

Integrated Technologies Ltd (ITL) is an awards partner, alongside Pfizer, Benenden Hospital Trust and Prendon Panels. The awards, which are open to primary and secondary school teams of all ages, invite students to showcase their science projects in front of a panel of industry experts; known as ‘the dragons’. 2017 will be the third year that ITL have sponsored the awards.

The annual awards have a Dragon’s Den-style format with students invited on stage to showcase their science projects with the chance to win prizes. The three categories are: innovation, investigation and invention. (more…)

Child car seats

ROSPA Logo Accidents don't have to happenFor many of us it goes without saying that strapping your little ones into a properly fitted car seat is the safest way to travel with them. Not only that – it’s also the law.

Now that the weather is colder, many families will be swapping their spring/summer strolls in the park for trips in the car, wrapping their children up warm in their winter coats and scarves, leading to lots of people asking, “just how safe it is to strap children into car seats while they are wearing their winter coats?”

The answer is that clothing can affect how snugly the seat’s harness fits the child, so it’s important to check it is snug on every journey. If your child is wearing a thick jacket or body suit the harness will not be close enough to his/her body, which means it will be too loose. In a collision, this would allow the child’s body to move too much before the harness starts to restrain the child, which reduces the safety of the seat considerably. We do not recommend that thick jackets or bodysuits are worn. If a child was wearing a thick coat on a previous journey, and is wearing something less bulky on the next journey, it is doubly important to check the harness fits snugly.  So, if more than two fingers can fit between the child’s chest and the harness, it is too loose. (more…)

Transformation Plan for Children and Young People

Transformation plan cover image - childrenThe Kent Transformation Plan for Children, Young People and Young Adults, which was originally published in December 2015, has now been refreshed.

The Kent Transformation Plan was developed with children, young people, professionals and partners who have been working locally and across CCGs to deal with the challenging issues of mental health and wellbeing.

Local and county-wide needs have been examined, as well as provision and good practice, and we have developed and designed a whole-system for Kent which puts children, young people and young adults at the heart of services.

The key areas of Transformation within our plans are to:

  • increase the role of Universal services: To challenge stigma and deliver good emotional wellbeing at every opportunity.
  • invest in early intervention to ensure that children and young people are able to access the right service at the right time.
  • deliver services and support from birth to 25: This will ensure that support no longer changes at age of 18 but responds to the individual needs of a young person as they follow their own unique path to adulthood.
  • meet the needs of vulnerable young populations.
  • improve access to prevent emotional and mental health problems occurring during childhood and adolescence

Read more about the refreshed Kent Transformation Plan for Children, Young People and Young Adults.

Alternatively, read the summary document.

NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group 9 November 2016

Deadline for secondary school place applications is Monday

Kent County CouncilYou must apply for a Secondary school place if your child is born between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006 for your child to start year 7 at Secondary school in 2017. You will need to apply for a Secondary school place when your child is in Year 6 at Primary school.

If your child is already at Secondary school and you want to move them to a different school you must apply for an in year admission.

Applications made made by Monday, 31 October 2016

Apply online at:

Halloween and bonfire night advice

halloweenKent Police have given the following advice on Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations


Trick or treating

We hope you all have a good Halloween weekend but it’s important to remember that not everyone enjoys it – if someone is displaying a ‘no trick or treat’ sign, please respect their wishes and don’t knock at their door.

If you have elderly neighbours, friends or family make sure they know they don’t have to open the door to anyone they don’t know or aren’t expecting to help them feel safe.

It’s important everyone knows that most trick or treaters are simply getting involved in the celebrations and will be friendly, but please share our guidance on bogus callers with anyone who may have concerns,

Print and display a Kent Police poster to help trick or treaters know where to visit this Halloween:

Guidance for parents:

  • Never let young children go trick or treating on their own and make sure they only visit people known to your family.
  • Make sure teenagers understand not to frighten people or use flour or eggs.
  • Advise young trick or treaters to stay in a group and never go into the home of someone they don’t know.

Bonfire Night

Top tips to celebrate safely

  • Fireworks can hurt and frighten people and animals – always follow the firework code,
  • Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to a child under 5.
  • It’s safer to go to an organised display – if you’re aged 18 or over and still want to buy your own fireworks, only buy those marked BS 7114:1988 from a reputable retailer.

Know the law

It’s an offence to:

  • sell adult fireworks to anyone under 18
  • have adult fireworks in a public place if you are under 18
  • have fireworks meant for a professional display
  • let off fireworks after 11pm and before 7am, except on Bonfire Night (allowed up to midnight), New Year’s Eve, Diwali and the Chinese New Year (all allowed up to 1am).

You can also be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

For more details on fireworks at the law visit,

Kent Police

Additional safety information:

Halloween safety tips,,

Children’s costumes