Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of a seemingly healthy baby unexpectedly under one year. There is no explanation for the cause of their death. SIDS is considered rare but it is very common for infants who is between the age group of 1 month and 1 year. It is also termed as crib death and occurs mainly when the baby is asleep. The cause of death is still unknown even after a thorough investigation. Approximately 1,300 babies died in the United States due to SIDS in 2018. According to the National Institute of Health, it is one of the leading causes of death among babies. Here in our blog, we will discuss what you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS and how to keep your baby sleep safe.
Symptoms of SIDS
SIDS doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. It usually happens suddenly to the child when he is sleeping even to those infants who seem to be healthy.
Causes and Risk Factors for SIDS
The cause of SIDS is still unknown, but scientists have investigated some possible causes mentioned below:-
- Sleep apnea (periods of stopped breathing while sleeping)
- abnormality in the area of the brain where it controls breathing
Since the cause of SIDS isn’t known yet there are several risk factors associated with it. You can avoid many of these risk factors when you are aware of it. Have a look at such risk factors:-
- low weight
- brain defects
- unsafe or old crib
- respiratory infection
- family history of SIDS
- not breastfeeding properly
- not using a pacifier for sleep
- premature or multiples birth
- too soft bedding or mattress
- a crib that contains soft objects
- smoking during pregnancy
- a young mother (below the age of 20)
- using a sleep positioner or wedge while feeding or sleeping,
- laying your baby to sleep on their stomach or side before the age of 1
Avoiding these risk factors will reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.
Reduce the Risk of SIDS to Your Baby
Since SIDS doesn’t have a known cause, therefore, is not preventable. But as we are aware of the risk factors related to SIDS we can avoid or reduce it. Never rely on baby monitors or devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. They don’t work properly and may also have safety issues.
- Lay Your Baby on their Back to Sleep
Until the baby completes 1 year of age he should be placed on his back to take a sleep. If your baby rolls from his back to his stomach or side, then he could be left in that position since he is strong enough to roll from tummy to back and vice versa. In case your baby falls asleep in a car seat or swing then place your baby on a firm sleep surface.
- Place your Baby to Sleep in a Safe Crib
Babies should be placed in a firm mattress without any toys. You can use bedding in a crib that meets today’s safety standards. We will discuss more in our next blog post about how to choose a safe crib and bedding.
- Don’t Share Room with Your Baby
You can keep your baby in your room, but don’t place him in the same bed where you sleep for about 6 months at least. Keep the crib of your child within the reach of your arm.
- Breastfeed Properly
Breastfeeding properly reduces the risk of SIDS, hence, feed your baby for at least one year with breastmilk. It is the sole source of nutrition for your baby. Kangaroo care is also beneficial for newborns, read our blog to know more details about it. When a preterm baby is born then skin-to-skin contact is beneficial for newborns.
- Don’t Share a Bed with Your Baby
When you are sharing a bed with your baby then he is at a higher risk of SIDS, suffocation, or strangulation. You should bring your baby to your bed only to feed them or comfort them. After this, you can place them in their own sleep space. Make sure nothing is near them that could suffocate or overheat your baby like pillows, sheets, or blankets.
- Avoid Smokers and Smoking Areas
Keep your baby away from those who are smoking. Avoid areas where smoking is done to reduce the risk of SIDS. Try to quit smoking if you are a parent and keep your car and home smoke-free. Never allow anyone to smoke near your baby.
- Take Your Child for Vaccination
Schedule and attend the doctor to track vaccinations that are necessary to keep your baby healthy. In a recent study, it has been found that immunizations give a protective effect against SIDS.
- Avoid Overheating
Keep your baby’s room at a comfortable temperature. Also, place the crib away from heating ventilation. Never overdress your baby. The baby should wear no extra layer of clothes that could overheat him.
- Offer Your Baby a Pacifier When Sleepy
Provide your child a pacifier when he is taking naps as it might reduce the risk of SIDS. Not all infants like pacifiers, and if the pacifier comes out while sleeping then don’t put it back in their mouths.
- Use Caution When You Buy Monitors to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
Breathing monitors are not actually helpful in reducing the risk of SIDS, though they can be helpful for babies with breathing or heart issues.
Usually, the prevention for SIDS starts before your baby is born. Pregnant women who are attending all recommended appointments with doctors may lower the risk of their baby dying of SIDS. You should not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs when you are going to get pregnant as it may affect your baby.