Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, affects as many as 3,400 families and babies per year, according to the CDC. These deaths occur in infants less than one year old and have no immediately obvious cause.
SIDS is a scary reality that many parents are concerned about. Fortunately, the number of newborns affected by SIDS has been declining since 1990, due to increased awareness and education about SIDS prevention. Although some of these instances are unavoidable, SIDS can be prevented by following some basic safety tips and prevention techniques below:
· Always put your baby on their back when sleeping. The back sleep position is the safest position for little ones until they are a year old.
· Use a firm and flat sleep surface such as a mattress or American Academy of Pediatrics, safety-approved crib or pack n’ play. Keep the crib free of extra blankets, toys, or pillows, and only have a sheet on it for comfort.
· Breastfeed, if possible. Babies that are breastfed have substantially lower rates (60% lower, in fact) of SIDS than babies who were never fed breast milk. Longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding also leads to a lower risk.
· Sleep in the same room as your baby, but don’t co-sleep, as this can suffocate your baby! When you sleep in the same room as your baby, you are able to help prevent SIDS before it can happen. It is recommended that you share your room or sleep in the same room as your baby, at least up until they are 6 months old, ideally one-year, when the risk of SIDS begins to decrease.
· While you are still pregnant, you can contribute to your baby’s health and safety and protect them from SIDS by receiving regular prenatal care, avoiding smoking and drinking, and taking care of your health.
· Use a pacifier for naps and nighttime sleep to help reduce the risk of SIDS. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pacifiers work to prevent SIDS by requiring forward positioning of the tongue, thus decreasing the risk of “oropharyngeal obstruction.”
· Dress your baby in warm, comfortable clothing for them to sleep in. This helps to keep your baby warm without requiring the use of a blanket in the sleep area, as loose blankets can lead to suffocation, increasing the risk for SIDS.
· Help your baby build their muscles by offering them opportunities for “tummy time” while they are awake. Tummy time helps improve your babies muscle strength and coordination in their necks, shoulders and arms. It also can help prevent flat spots on your baby’s head. Just as with adults, if your baby stays as active as possible, many health risks are reduced, including the risk of SIDS.
To read more about how to prevent SIDS, click here.