Five children living in abject squalor were only discovered by police when one of the boys was found wandering the streets alone.
The youngsters were living in a house littered with dog mess, soiled nappies and crawling with flies, a court was told.
Two PCSOs saw a three-year-old toddler wandering the streets alone and took him home, reports Wales Online.
When they arrived at the address the experience officers were sickened by what they saw.
It later emerged a number of the youngsters had been regularly going to school in an unkempt, dirty, and hungry state – with teachers giving them clothes from their own children to wear.
Swansea Crown Court heard the five children have since been taken off their mother.
Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said prior to the police becoming involved last year, social services had been working closely with the mother to try support her.
He said there had been times when the defendant had engaged with the help on offer, and conditions for the children improved.
However, after a short while they would then “deteriorate” again.
Mr Rouch said matters came to a head when two PCSOs on patrol saw a toddler out on the street alone, and took the child home.
He said the officers were struck by the conditions they found in the property, with dog mess on the floors and beds, and soiled nappies left laying around.
The prosecutor said the house was full of flies, and there was a strong smell in the air.
The court heard it then emerged a number of the youngsters in the family had regularly been turning up for school in a hungry and unwashed state, with head lice , and wearing ill-fitting clothes.
On a number of occasions teachers gave them hand-me-down clothes from their own children to wear, such was the state they were in.
The woman, who comes from the Swansea area but who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children, pleaded guilty to child cruelty.
Mr Rouch said the five children have since been taken off the woman and placed in care, and are now said to be “doing well” in a their new home environments.
Carina Hughes, for the defendant, said the woman had been struggling to cope as a single mother with mental health issues, and that on occasions “matters got on top of her”.
She said: “Deep down she is a mother who loves her children dearly.”
Judge Peter Heywood described the conditions in the house as “squalid” and not been fit for human habitation, never mind being a suitable environment for young children.
He said the woman “richly deserved” immediate custody, but he was mindful that if he did send her straight to prison she would lose the managed contact she currently has with her children.
Giving the defendant a one-third discount for her guilty plea, he sentenced her to 14 months in prison suspended for 24 months. She will also have to complete a rehabilitation course and work with the Women’s Pathfinder initiative.