The number one cause of death of children between the age of one month and one year is sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. It is described as the sudden and unexplained death of an infant younger than one-year-old. Approximately, 1,545 infants die every year from SIDS. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method to prevent SIDS but there are ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.
What is the Cause of SIDS?
Medical experts don’t know the exact cause of SIDS, but many believe one or more of the following factors are involved:
- Brain abnormalities or defects
- Environmental stressors
- Body regulation
How Can I Reduce the Risk of SIDS?
Fortunately, there are several methods to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Use the following 12 tips to help prevent SIDS.
1. Place the Baby on Their Back to Sleep
Sleeping on their back is the safest sleep position for babies until they are at least one year old.
2. Use a Flat Firm Sleep Surface with a Fitted Sheet and Nothing Else
A baby’s sleep surface should be firm and flat. A baby should never sleep on soft surfaces such as a couch or pillow. They should not sleep in a car seat, stroller, sling, or swing. A baby should not sleep with a loose sheet, blanket, or anything else other than a tightly fitted sheet on the sleep surface. This helps to reduce suffocation risks.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for mothers and babies. Statistics have shown that babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of SIDS.
4. Share Your Room
It is recommended to share your room with your baby for the first 6 months to one year. The baby should not sleep in your bed but in their infant-safe sleep area. Sharing a bed with your infant increases the risk of suffocation. Keeping the baby in your room reduces the risk of SIDS.
5. Keep the Baby’s Sleeping Area Clear
The baby’s sleeping area should not have any toys, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. The only thing that should be on the baby’s mattress is a snug fitted sheet. There should be no objects, toys, crib bumpers, or loose bedding in the baby’s sleep area.
6. Get Good Prenatal Care
It is important for women to take good care of themselves during pregnancy. Attend regularly scheduled healthcare appointments and avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illegal drugs.
7. Do Not Smoke
Women should not smoke during pregnancy or after pregnancy around the baby. Do not allow others to smoke around the baby.
8. Use a Pacifier
Offering the baby a pacifier for sleep after breastfeeding is well-established as helping reduce the risk of SIDS. Do not force a pacifier on the baby if they don’t want it and do not attach it to anything.
9. Control the Temperature
Don’t let the baby get too hot during sleep. Dress them well for sleep but without over-bundling them. Never cover the baby’s face or head during sleep.
10. Get Check Ups and Vaccines
Getting regular health checkups and recommended vaccines helps lower the risk of SIDS.
11. Only Use Products for Safe Sleep
Do not use products that claim to prevent or reduce SIDS. These products are not supported by evidence and are linked with injury and death.
12. Tummy Time
Do plenty of supervised tummy time to help the baby strengthen their neck, shoulders, and arms.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). How can I reduce the risk of SIDS? Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Retrieved February 8, 2023
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