The Covid-19 pandemic has meant fathers-to-be are missing out on vital lessons to help prevent cot death, a charity has warned.
The Lullaby Trust said men had been prevented from attending key antenatal appointments, with many left in the dark about safe sleeping practices to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (Sids).
Its survey of 500 new fathers and fathers-to-be found that fewer than a third were given information on the basic steps they could take to lower the risk of Sids.
Fewer than a quarter of dads had been able to attend all antenatal appointments and more than half had not been allowed to attend any at all.
Around four babies per week in the UK die from Sids. The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics in September showed 198 such deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2018, with the death rate up slightly on 2007 figures.
While Sids cannot be completely prevented, the risk can be reduced by always sleeping babies on their backs, sharing a room with them for the first six months, not smoking in the home, not co-sleeping (especially if drinking, smoking or using drugs), and never sleeping on a sofa or armchair with a baby.
Jenny Ward, chief executive of the Lullaby Trust, said: “It is very worrying that dads are not receiving information on how to sleep their baby safely.
“Most dads play a key role in the care of their baby and we know that during lockdown dads are taking an even more prominent role in childcare.
“Safer sleep advice should be followed consistently for all sleep and nap times so it is very important that both parents know how to reduce the risk of Sids.
“We are concerned that due to Covid restrictions, dads are even less likely to receive this potentially life-saving information.
“We sadly know of instances where a baby has died of Sids, which may have been prevented by both parents being aware of safer sleep guidelines.
“Only by making all parents aware of how they can reduce the risk of Sids and supporting them to help protect their babies, can we ensure we do not see more lives lost.”
A report last summer from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss warned that Covid-19 had “exacerbated existing challenges” relating to baby loss and support for parents.