Disclaimer :: I am not a doctor; this is solely my experience with the babies. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding your own health.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of injury related death for infants under one year old. Approximately 3,500 SIDS related deaths occur every year in the United States, many of which are preventable. Safe sleep environments and correct infant positioning are part of the Safe to Sleep program that has reduced SIDS by almost 50 percent since 1994.
Who Is at Risk?
All babies are at varying degrees of risk for SIDS, but some are at higher risk based on genetics, birth circumstances, and living environment. Here are some of the factors that increase risk for SIDS:
- Babies of color
- Babies of low birth weight, premature birth, or multiples
- Family history of SIDS
- Inadequate prenatal care
- Incomplete development of the part of the brain that controls breathing and arousal or other brain defects
- Infants between two to four months old
- Infants in unsafe sleeping environments, such as co-sleeping or using unapproved sleep devices
- Infants overdressed and/or overheated
- Infants placed to sleep on his or her stomachs or sides
- Infants who have just had a respiratory infection
- Male infants
- Mother is less than 20 years old
- Use of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or vapes by mother or other caregivers; infant exposure to secondhand smoke
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Many simple changes can be made to help keep your baby safe while sleeping. Some changes may be a bit harder, but it will be worth the peace of mind that comes with knowing your baby is sleeping safer. Parents must insist all caregivers use these safe sleep guidelines.
- A crib or other approved sleep space, such a bassinet, is the best place for baby to sleep.
- Baby should be dressed in a one-piece outfit and a swaddle sack. Baby should not be swaddled or covered in blankets that can come loose and cover baby’s face and head. Overdressing can lead to overheating. Don’t swaddle baby’s arms after two months old, which is when babies start to roll over.
- Baby should be placed to sleep on his or her back to sleep, even if baby is strong enough to roll over.
- Baby should not sleep in their carseat, swing, or other devices marketed for infant sleep that are not approved by a doctor. Monitors marketed to prevent SIDS are also not approved due to being unsafe and ineffective. Plus, those devices can give caregivers a false sense of security.
- Breastfeed for at least six months if possible, and vaccinate the baby.
- Cribs should be free of any toys, blankets, bumpers, and pillows. Cribs should be away from cords. No bibs, strings, straps, or pacifier clips should be in the crib or attached to the baby. The mattress should be firm with a tightly fitted sheet. No “positioners” or wedges should be used unless recommended by a physician.
- Mother and other caregivers should not smoke or vape, drink alcohol, or use drugs during the pregnancy and while caring for the baby.
- Offer baby a pacifier during sleep time. If breastfeeding, wait until the third week when your milk supply has settled to use a pacifier. If the baby doesn’t want the pacifier or spits it out during sleep, don’t try to force it or keep putting it back in.
- Room temperature should be cool, between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent overheating.
- Share your room, not your bed. Babies should share your room for six months, ideally a year. Baby should have their own sleep space in your room.