Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) kills thousands of babies in the United States every year. It is a silent, unknown killer with no apparent rhyme or reason. Parents can try to do everything right for their baby, and then one day they are gone.
So, how can parents prevent this terrible syndrome from striking their little one? Fortunately, a lot of research has shown that there are many ways to reduce your child’s chances of being affected by SIDS.
These four guidelines are the most critical rules to follow first.
1. Do Not Smoke
Smoking is number one on the list because it is so preventable. Yes, nicotine is proven to be frighteningly addictive, but your baby comes first.
A mother who smokes while pregnant is setting her child up for a huge increase in possibly getting SIDS.
Additionally, secondhand smoke has proven to be just as dangerous to a baby as smoking while pregnant with that child. So, just because someone smokes in a different room, the little one is still not safe from the harm caused by smoking.
Not only can your baby develop respiratory issues, asthma, and other chronic lung conditions from your smoking habit, he/she can also be at a much higher risk of falling victim to SIDS. Don’t smoke around your baby.
2. Don’t Share a Bed With Your Baby
This one is tough sometimes. Tired parents may drift off to sleep while they are holding their babies, or lying down on a bed, chair, or couch with them.
Sharing a bed (or couch, or chair) with an infant is one of the major factors in SIDS. Try to get your baby safely to their bed or crib before you fall asleep with them next to you.
3. Do Not Clutter Your Baby’s Bed
A bare bed, with no extra bedding, is safest for your baby regarding SIDS. Also, never put stuffed animals, blankets, quilts, or bumper pads in the crib with your baby.
These can lead to accidental suffocation or overheating, both believed to be leading causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
4. Do Place Your Baby on Their Back to Sleep
One of the absolute worst things a parent can do, as it relates to SIDS, is to put the baby in a prone or side sleeping position.
Babies can suffocate quickly in this position, and can easily fall onto their face from sleeping on their side. They don’t have the arm or neck strength or reactions to adjust themselves and can get tangled up in their swaddle or even their own clothing.
According to one study, if babies sleep on their back, they are up to five times less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
20 Tips to Prevent SIDS
Before the Baby is Born
- Get good prenatal care. Go to your obstetrician regularly, do your best to remain healthy while pregnant, and to ensure full-term delivery (whenever possible).
- Never use drugs (even certain prescription drugs), especially hard drugs like heroin or cocaine, during pregnancy.
- Never use tobacco during pregnancy.
- Do not become pregnant during your teenage years. Young mothers are shown to have a direct link to SIDS in their babies.
- If you already are a young mother with one child, wait to have another. The second baby born to a young mother is at an even higher risk of developing SIDS than the first.
After the Baby is Born
- Do not fall asleep with your baby in your arms, or on the furniture next to you. Breastfeeding can be a very relaxing time and can lead to both parent and baby falling asleep together. Make sure you get your child safely into their bed before you doze off.
- Do not let your child sleep with other children (or adults) in the same bed. This can be a dangerous practice and can lead directly to SIDS.
- Do not put any extra items in your child’s bed. It should be empty, except for the mattress and enough to keep him/her warm. Extra blankets, quilts, bumper pads, stuffed animals, and pillows should be nowhere near your baby’s sleeping area. There is now even evidence that a loose blanket near a child’s face can lead to SIDS, as they are rebreathing the air they exhaled.
- Keep the baby’s crib in the room with the parents until they are at least six months old. That way, parents can monitor the child closely. At six months old, doctors say that children can roll over on their power.
- If a baby has a cold, stuffy or runny nose, a cough, or even is just fussy, put them in the bare crib next to your bed. Some parents cover them with blankets to try to help them feel better, but overheating is a significant risk factor for SIDS.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke near your baby. Ever.
- Breastfeed your baby, if at all possible. Studies have shown that breastmilk leads to healthier babies overall.
- Many new mothers see that a baby on its stomach will cry less. Avoid doing this at all costs, though, as prone sleeping is a major risk factor for SIDS.
- Use a pacifier. There is a definite link between children who use pacifiers and the rate of SIDS in those kids.
- Only do tummy time on the floor or rug, never on a bed.
- If you are traveling, make sure that hotels offer safe cribs or bring your portable crib.
- Do not overheat your child. If he is sweaty, remove clothing and never have blankets in the crib.
- If your baby ever stops breathing, gags after spitting up, or ever turns blue, tell your pediatrician immediately.
- Discuss all of these tips with anyone will spend time with your baby.
- If your child goes to daycare or has a babysitter, hand them this list of tips.