One of the best ways to reduce the risk of infant deaths is by educating parents and caregivers about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). October is SIDS Awareness Month, which makes it a good time to brush up on expert recommendations to help keep our babies safe when sleeping.
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the sudden death of an infant less than one-year-old that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation that includes a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the medical history.
Who Should Be Concerned?
Parents, grandparents, friends, child care providers including babysitters all should be concerned. Basically, anyone who takes care of infants for any amount of time should be aware of SIDS and best practices for safe sleeping.
What is the Cause of SIDS?
Research suggest that the exact cause is not known at this time.
Best Practices to Reduce SIDS:
Always place infants on their backs when putting them to sleep for naps and at night.
Ensure that cribs and bassinets are safety-approved. Crib railings should be too narrow for a baby’s head to fit in between rails.
Use a firm sleep surface or mattress. Only use fitted mattress covers and sheets over the mattress.
Keep loose bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, stuffed animals and other soft materials out of your baby’s sleep area.
Babies should not sleep in adult beds, couches or chairs alone or with a person.
Co-sleeping with your baby is not recommended, per the Safe to Sleep campaign.
Research suggest that exclusive breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 70 percent.
Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy and after birth. Do not let others smoke around your baby.
Swaddling does not reduce the risk of SIDS and in some cases may increase the risk for overheating and SIDS.
Share your room with your baby, but not your bed. Keep your baby in close proximity in a crib or bassinet in your room.
Questions to Ask Caregivers:
Do you have experience caring for infants? If so, how long have you cared for infants?
Has an infant ever been taken to the hospital or died during your care?
Are you familiar with SIDS?
How do you get babies to sleep and what are your thoughts on crib sleeping?