Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a major concern for most parents. SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than one year of age. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age.
Also, most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between two months and four months of age. So, what causes SIDS? Health care providers don’t know exactly what causes SIDS. However, there are a few actions that are known to lower the risk of SIDS.
• Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. This includes for naps and at night.
• Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. Never place your baby to sleep on pillows, quilts, or other soft surfaces.
• Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area. Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts, or other pillow like crib bumpers in your baby’s sleep area, and keep all items away from your baby’s face.
• Do not allow smoking around your baby. Smoking before and/or after the birth of your baby can significantly increase the risk of SIDS.
• Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children. However, he or she can sleep in the same room as you. If you bring your baby into bed with you to breastfeed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or a bedside co-sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished.
• Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing your infant down to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it.
• Do not let your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
• Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.
• Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you have questions about using monitors for other conditions talk to your health care provider.
• Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head by providing “Tummy Time” when your baby is awake and someone is supervising. You should also change the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next; and avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, and bouncers.
For more information on preventing SIDS and safe sleep for your baby, you can visit www.nichd.nih.gov/SIDS.
Brittney Tschudy, BSH, RN, TTS Hocking County Health Department, writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News.