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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a devastating and unexplained child death. SIDS is most common during sleep but the exact causes are unknown.
Sometimes a physical vulnerability or certain environmental factors can increase the risk. The physical risk factors include brain abnormalities that control breathing and arousal from sleep, a respiratory infection, and a low birth weight. Environmental risk factors include sleeping position and a sleeping surface that is too soft.
Infants are most vulnerable in the first few months of life, with SIDS most common between 0-4 months. Sudden infant death is a painful shock for a family and our heart goes out to all parents who have had to suffer this horrible tragedy.
Below we have compiled a list of ways in which you can help keep your baby safe.
- Always put your baby to sleep on his back- The risk of SIDS is much higher if a baby sleeps on his stomach or his side. Since young infants cannot rollover on their own, sleeping on their stomach increases their risk. Make sure everyone who takes care of the baby knows to always lay the baby on his back to sleep.
- Choose the right bedding- Purchase a firm and flat mattress for your baby and avoid soft toys, bedding, and pillows. All that should be on the mattress is a fitted sheet for your baby to sleep on. Do not use blankets, if your baby is cold dress him in warm clothing or consider buying a sleep sack. Avoid products including crib bumpers, sleep positioners, wedges, and special mattresses.
- Sleep near your baby- Sleeping nearby greatly reduces the risk of SIDS, but do not share a bed with your baby, as this greatly increases the risk since your bed is too soft and big.
- Make sure your baby doesn’t overheat- Dress your baby for sleep in light, comfortable clothes and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
- Do not smoke- Smoking during and after pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke entirely.
- Keep up proper prenatal care- Make sure to keep up with prenatal appointments and get your baby all recommended immunizations.
- Breastfeeding has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Consider giving your baby a pacifier – Studies have shown a reduced risk of SIDS when a baby sleeps with a pacifier. Do not force the pacifier though if your baby does not want it
- Remember the ABC’s of safe infant sleep: Babies sleep safest when Alone, on their Backs, in a safe Crib