6 Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is a condition every parent should know about. SIDS is sometimes referred to as “crib death,” because a seemingly healthy baby dies suddenly in their crib. Sudden infant death syndrome affects about one in every thousand live births. While the thought of this happening is a frightening for any parent, there are things you can do to lower the risk of your baby developing sudden infant death syndrome. Here are six of them.
Position Your Baby Properly in Their Crib
How you position your baby in their crib has an impact on their risk of developing SIDS. Always place your baby in the crib on their back, not their tummy or side. A baby can’t roll over by themselves until at least six months of age. Until that time, they run the risk of suffocation if you position them on their tummy. Once your baby has developed the motor skills they need to turn over, they can sleep in other positions – but not until.
Breastfeeding offers multiple health benefits for both you and baby – but did you know it also lowers the risk of SIDS by 60%? How might breastfeeding be protective against sudden infant death? Babies who nurse from mom’s breast take in antibodies that protect against respiratory infections. That’s important since some research suggests that respiratory infections contribute to sudden infant death syndrome.
Keep the Baby Crib Uncluttered
To lower the risk of SIDS, place your baby in a crib with a firm, supportive mattress and a single fitted sheet. Clear your baby’s sleeping area of stuffed animals, pillows, and blankets that pose suffocation hazards and keep them out of their crib until they have better motor control and the ability to roll over. Most babies develop the ability to roll over between 6 months and a year of age.
Give Your Baby a Pacifier
A pacifier doesn’t just calm a baby and reduce crying, it also lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. No one knows exactly why sucking on a pacifier protects against SIDS but research suggests that it does. One caveat – Make sure your baby is breastfeeding normally before introducing them to a pacifier. Otherwise, the pacifier can make it harder for your baby to accept breastfeeding.
Don’t Overdress Your Baby
Keep your baby in a cool, comfortable environment so that they don’t overheat. Doing so may lower their risk of sudden infant death. It’s tempting to bundle them up in multiple layers to keep them warm but you may be doing your little one more harm than good in terms of their risk of sudden death. Keep the temperature of their sleeping area between 65 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and watch for signs that your baby is overheating. If your baby is clammy or feels warm, take them to a cooler area.
Keep the Air Around Your Baby Clean and Safe to Breathe
If you smoke, do it outside and as far from your baby as possible. Also, avoid using scented cleaners or perfumed products around your baby. The ingredients in these products can irritate a baby’s airways and trigger breathing problems. Airway irritation, air pollution, and poor air quality are all linked with SIDS.
The Bottom Line
Most babies do not develop sudden infant death syndrome but it’s always a concern. Take these six steps to keep your baby safe and sound.
WebMD. “Breastfeeding Cuts SIDS Risk”
Matern Child Health J. 2012 Apr;16(3):609-14. doi: 10.1007/s10995-011-0793-x.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”
HealthyChildren.org. “Reduce the Risk of SIDS”
Pediatrics June 2004, VOLUME 113 / ISSUE 6