First, I am going to state my disclaimer in regards to this post about how to prevent SIDS. This information is based on my reseach, education and experience. It may notbe complete and is as recent as I am aware. Please be sure to do your own research.
SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is an unexplained death of an infant under 1 year. It usually occurs during sleep and is most likely to occur between 2-4 months. SIDS rates have decreased significantly over the last 10 years, due to research and education. While there have been multiple thoughts about SIDS over the years, my research in regards to how to prevent SIDS is worth some consideration for any parent of an infant.
How To Prevent SIDS
Recently it has been found that a few simple changes to your babies sleep habits and environments can help prevent sudden infant death (SIDS) from occurring. Below I will tell you about the most common ways to prevent SIDS.
It has been shown that infants (before and after birth) exposed to second, or even third hand smoke are more likely to die of SIDS. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, please don’t do it around your children or while pregnant. Wear a smoking jacket, outside only, wash your hands, even shower. It’s that important.
We all know the many benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby. You can add this to the list of how to prevent SIDS. I am not going to get on a rant here, as I truly believe that mental sanity is more important than breastfeeding, but if you are struggling, do your research, ask for help, do your best. Breastfeeding is not easy at first, but does get easier and is absolutely worth the effort.
Back to Sleep
Most new mothers know that babies should sleep on their backs. This has been shown to make a huge difference in sudden infant death prevention. No wedges, side sleeping, etc. Healthy babies who spit up will not choke on their spit up. Be sure to help your baby spend time on their tummy when awake to play.
Avoid Loose Linen
The easiest way I have found to do this is by using a sleepsac. This will keep the baby warm, without any chance of covering the baby’s face as they move in their sleep. You can also place the baby in the crib with their feet touching one end, tuck the blanket under that end and sides of the mattress with the blanket no higher than their nipple line. This will also help to ensure the blanket does not restrict air flow. Use a thin, breathable (ie. cotton) blanket. (see image below)
NO BUMPER PADS
It blows me away that stores still sell baby bedding with bumper pads. What an incredible waste of money. Bumper pads restrict air flow and should not be used, especially for a child under 1. There should also be no stuffed animals or other loose blankets in the bed. Just the baby. There are some new products on the market that wrap the rails individually. I have not personally reviewed these types of products, but I have heard good things.
Co-sleep, But Not Necessarily Bed Share
Co-sleeping does not necessarily involve having the infant in the bed with the parents. This is not recommended for how to prevent SIDS, but if you choose to do it, please do it safely. A side car crib, or bassinet in the same room as the parents is recommended as the safest sleep space for infants. We even have some great tips for how to safely co-sleep that might be of interest.
Every Sleep Matters
I always thought of SIDS only occurring at night. This is not the case. Infants have died from napping on a couch at grandma’s, or being surrounded by pillows on aunties bed. My recommendation is to lay a dream blanket on the floor of a safe room and nap the child there if you have no crib, playpen or bassinet.
DO NOT Overdress Baby
Overheating is another link researchers have found to be related to SIDS deaths. Babies need what you are wearing, plus one. An undershirt and a sleeper is likely all they need, with a sleepsac in cooler months. I would say no hats and skip the undershirts in summer. A fan has also been known to increase airflow.
Use A Firm Mattress, That Fits Properly In Your Crib
I am all for second and third-hand baby products, but you need to ensure the mattress is appropriate and safe if bought used and right for your crib if bought new. If you are not using a crib, the surface needs to be firm and flat.
Encourage Soother Use
For every article that encourages soother use, you will find one discouraging it. I am all for soothers. However, I have only been successful in getting 2/5 of my children to use one. There has been a link to soother use and SIDS prevention. Another reason I encourage them, especially before 6 months.
Car Seats and Swings Are Not Appropriate For Sleeping
Now I am about to go on a rant. It drives me nuts to watch parents take their babies for a walk in their car seat attached to the stroller. Car seats do not provide the appropriate positioning of infants for an extended period. Take a look at how your baby is positioned, would you like to sleep like that? Laying flat when out for a walk, or when sleeping is recommended by occupation and physical therapists, as well as pediatricians. Likewise, the positioning in a car seat or swing is more likely to lead to SIDS and should only be used for in short duration. My personal recommendation is the Baby Jogger City Select with a Bassinet. I have used it for my last 4 kids who were very close in age.
SIDS should be a concern for every parent, and there are some simple tips for how to prevent SIDS when you think about how your child is sleeping and what you expose them to. Sharing my thoughts regarding sudden infant death is one way to help get the word out that this can be prevented in many instances.
When checking my facts I consulted:
Did I miss anything? Do you have any thoughts on this post? I would love to hear them.