Nappy sacks

May 2013

Nappy sacks can cause a fatal hazard to young babies and 11 babies have died from suffocating or choking on nappy sacks over the last ten years.

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has launched a national nappy sacks campaign to help public health teams and accident prevention practitioners raise awareness of the dangers of nappy sacks.

Nappy sacks campaign

They have produced a customisable nappy sack toolkit which can be used by practitioners in their own local area.

Common themes running throughout the deaths indicated that young babies (generally of 6 months of age and under) are most at risk because at this stage of development, young babies naturally put objects to their mouths to investigate them, but find it more difficult to let go.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has launched the national campaign in order to help public health teams nationally to implement consistent safety messages around nappy sacks.

Lobbying for change at European level

“While we will continue our efforts to bring about changes to the packaging and the bags themselves at a European level, we feel this issue is too important to wait,” said Children’s Accident Prevention Co-ordinator and campaign founder Beth Beynon, of NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

“By rolling it out through public health teams at a national level we hope to take this campaign out to communities to reach parents, grandparents and carers in the hope of preventing any more babies from needlessly dying.”

CAPT is working with Beth to put pressure on the European Commission to change the technical guidance to nappy sack makers.

The campaign won support from ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation. It recommended that a more detailed warning be added to the packaging to deter parents from storing the sacks where babies are sleeping or leaving the sacks within their reach. It also wanted to see the bags kept on a roll instead of packaged singly, making it more difficult for a single sack to be accessed by a baby.

The European Committee for Standardisation is now reviewing whether it can introduce new manufacturing guidelines to improve safety. European member countries will also create a joint factsheet to raise public awareness.

“We know of at least 11 cases where babies have died by suffocating on nappy sacks. The tragedy is that parents have no way of knowing that nappy sacks are as dangerous for small babies as carrier bags are for small children,” said Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive at CAPT.

“Young babies are most at risk because they naturally grasp things and pull them to their mouths, but then find it difficult to let go. Nappy sacks are small and flimsy, and cling to babies’ faces so they can’t breathe.

“This campaign will help to raise parents’ and carers’ awareness of the dangers, while we continue to apply pressure internationally for a solution.”

The nappy sack campaign resources

The Nappy Sack Safety Toolkit includes everything practitioners need to launch a consistent campaign across their area with minimal impact on local resources:

  • Nappy sacks safety warning flyer (PDF, 2.5 MB): designed to fit inside the Child Health Record / Red Book.
  • Poster (PDF, 2.5 MB): for display in GP practices, health visiting clinics, children’s centres and family information services.
  • Information leaflet (PDF, 2.4 MB): for display in GP practices, health visiting clinics, children’s centres and family information services.
  • Press Release :to launch the campaign across your area. Download at the bottom of this page.
  • Educational DVD: for use in ante-natal classes, parenting sessions, waiting-toom display screens and to download below.


The safety warning, poster and leaflet have been designed to enable local areas to add their own organisational logo and contact details. They can be edited or used with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress to add logos, local contact details or additional text.

The nappy sacks safety video can be viewed above, on the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group site or a hard copy of the DVD can be ordered from Beth Beynon.

More information

To register your support for the campaign or request further information, please contact:

Beth Beynon, Children’s Accident Prevention Co-ordinator via or call 01726 627963 / 627582.

Related links

Share your work

Do you know of work being done in your area on nappy sacks? Email the Making the Link team at to share your work.

Download the press release below

Press release.doc35.5 KB
Updated October 2014