8 steps to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also known as ‘cot or crib death’ is the sudden unexpected and unexplained death usually during sleep, of an apparently healthy baby less than a year old. Although the cause is unknown, it appears that SIDS might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant's brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. A combination of physical and sleep environmental factors can make an infant more vulnerable to SIDS such as brain defects, low birth weight, respiratory infection, overheating, sleeping on the stomach, and sharing a bed.
Although there is no 100% way to prevent SIDS, there is a lot you can do to lower your baby’s risk such as:
- Putting a sleeping baby on their back – Anytime a baby sleeps on their stomach or side, it puts them at a higher risk of SIDS. These positions put your baby’s face in the mattress or sleeping area, which can smother them. Every time you put your baby to sleep, lay them on their back. Do not allow them to sleep in a car seat, stroller, baby seat for long periods of time. Get them out and lay them on a flat surface or bed ON THEIR BACK.
- Firm bed, no soft toys or bedding - To prevent smothering or suffocation, always lay your baby down to sleep on either a firm mattress or surface in a crib or bassinet. All your baby’s crib need is the fitted sheet. Don't put blankets, quilts, pillows, stuffed toys, or crib bumpers in your baby's crib.
- Do not smoke around your baby – If you’re a smoker, here’s a valid reason why you should quit before you get pregnant. Smoking when you're pregnant is a major risk factor for SIDS, and secondhand smoke around your child also increases the chances of SIDS. Don't let anyone smoke around your baby.
- Keep your sleeping baby close but not in your bed – It is dangerous for a baby to sleep with another child or an adult in the same bed, couch or chair. If you bring your baby to bed for breastfeeding or comforting, ensure you put the baby back in the crib. Also, if you are tired, do not breastfeed while sitting on a couch or chair, you might fall asleep.
- Breastfeed as long as you can – Breastfeeding is said to lower the risk of SIDS. Some think breast milk may protect babies from infections that raise their SIDS risk. Do not drink alcohol if you breastfeed, because that puts your baby at risk of SIDS.
- Consider using a pacifier to make your baby sleep
- Keep your baby from overheating - Because overheating may raise a baby's risk of SIDS, dress your infant in light, comfortable clothes for sleeping, and keep the room temperature at a level that's comfortable for an adult. If you're worried about your baby staying warm, dress him in a "onesie," that cover arms, legs, hands, and feet. However, don't use a regular blanket. Your baby can get tangled in it or pull the blanket over his face.
- Do not give honey to a child under one-year-old - Honey can lead to botulism (food poisoning caused by a bacterium) in very young children. Never give honey to a child under 1-year-old. Botulism and the bacteria that causes it may be linked to SIDS.
Remember to ask your baby's doctor any questions you may have about SIDS, SIDS prevention, and keeping your baby warm, happy, and safe.