Did you know that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is linked to about 2,500 baby deaths every year?
Even though SIDS rate has dropped more than 60% since the launch of the “Back to Sleep” (now Safe to Sleep) campaign in 1994, it is still among worst nightmares of new parents.
SIDS is also known as “crib death” as it primarily happens to babies (12 months or younger) during their sleep. There are no warning signs, no clear reason, no nothing. This is by no means a reason for you to panic and become even more irrational than you already are after the baby is born. Just take the precautionary measures below and be extra cautious during this so important first year of your baby.
How to reduce the risk of SIDS? Here is a detailed list of 7 things you need to know to reduce the risk of SIDS:
1. Put your baby to sleep on their back
We cannot emphasize enough how important putting a sleeping baby on their back is. Any time your baby sleeps on his stomach or on his side, the risk of SIDS increases. Actually, a baby sleeping on their side is not dangerous per se but the problem is that babies usually tend to roll over on their stomach if they are put to sleep on their side. Sleeping on his tummy, your baby may easily suffocate as his face is pressed against the crib mattress.
It doesn’t matter if your baby is just taking a short nap or is having his night sleep. Always, ALWAYS put him to sleep on his back. Make sure your whole “village” understands and follows this rule (siblings, family members, babysitters, etc).
What if the baby rolls over by himself? At around 6 months, most babies learn to roll over both ways. This means that once you put the baby to sleep on his back, he may prefer sleeping on his side (or on his stomach), so he may just roll over and thus show you being on his back is not his favorite sleeping position. Stay cool! If the baby can roll over by himself, it’s OK. Just keep putting them to sleep on their back and they’ll roll over if they don’t feel comfortable.
2. Make sure the crib is a safe place for your baby to sleep in
It’s extremely important to provide not only comfort but also safety to your baby in their crib.
The mattress the baby sleeps on should be firm and with an intact re-enforced edging. Are you reusing a crib mattress? Make sure you inspect it thoroughly and confirm it is safe before putting it in use.
The crib (or any other place your baby is sleeping in like a bassinet, a cot, etc) is no place for your grandma’s hand-woven quilt, fluffy blankets, toys, stuffed animals, pillows, and the like. You get the picture. Just a fitted sheet and a baby on his back is everything you should see in the crib at bedtime.
3. Don’t smoke
Did you know that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of SISD for their babies with more than 300%? Smoking is not just plain nasty. It’s one of the major risk factors for SIDS. Don’t smoke (or let anyone else smoke) around your baby. Please.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s the 21st century. Don’t smoke. Just. Don’t.
4. Breastfeed your baby
The way you choose to feed your baby (breastfeed or formula-feed) is really up to you. If you choose to breastfeed, though, we have good news for you! Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SISD with about 50%.
5. Bed-sharing is a big no-no
If you want to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby, let them sleep in your bedroom. When mommy and baby sleep in the same room, the risk of SISD significantly lowers. This is not applicable to bed-sharing, though, as studies show it actually increases the risk of SIDS. It makes perfect sense as parents are often too tired and sleep-deprived to even find (and use) their pillow when they go to bed, let alone being conscious of a baby sleeping right next to them in their bed.
6. Use a pacifier
Except for the heavenly sound of silence pacifiers are capable of providingfor parents, they also help prevent SIDS. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, just make sure your little one has already established a steady breastfeeding routine and/or is at least 1 month old before you introduce the pacifier. The best time to give the baby a pacifier is BEFORE they fall asleep. In case the baby is already asleep and he spits the pacifier, don’t put it back in his mouth.
Needless to say, a baby’s pacifier should not be coated in any substance you’ve heard would help them sleep better (like honey or, God forbid, alcohol). Oh, and don’t freak out if the baby doesn’t fall in love with his pacifier – that’s perfectly normal (especially if you are breastfeeding).
7. Be careful with overheating
The high percentage of parents who are obsessed with keeping their baby as warm as possible is striking. Babies, just like adults, don’t like being cold, but they are also not over the moon if they are overheated. Use your common sense and keep the rooms’ temperature at reasonable levels. Hint: If you are feeling comfortable at that temperature, chances are the baby is feeling comfortable as well.
The same applies to dressing your baby. If you are wearing nothing but a tank top (and yoga pants, of course), what’s with the hoodie on your baby? His sleeping clothes should also be considered carefully. A onesie is usually a good choice. Or, you can skip the onesie and put the baby in a sleep sack instead!
- Your baby should be put to sleep on his back.
- Preferably with a pacifier in his mouth.
- In their own crib.
- After you’ve removed all the clutter from it.
- In a smoke-free bedroom.
- At a comfortable temperature.
That’s it! Following these rules is a simple and effective way for you to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby!