5 Ways to Keep Your Baby Safe from SIDS #SIDSAwarenessMonth

When you bring your sweet little one home from the hospital, you can’t help but think of all the potential stored up in that tiny body. Your baby could grow up to have a family of their own, to help thousands, to really make a difference in the world!

But for some babies, that potential is cut off all too soon.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, affects thousands of families each year (1). And what’s worse is that these deaths are sudden, and often unexplainable.  

What is the problem?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants aged 1 to 12 months” (2). In fact, in 2014, 1500 infants died of SIDS in the US alone (3). Although we don’t know the exact cause of SIDS, many of these deaths occur while the baby is sleeping.

Thankfully, there is hope! According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “SIDS rates in the United States have dropped steadily since 1994″ (4). Even without knowing what causes these unexplainable deaths to happen, research has found a few things we can do to decrease the risk.

How can we help?

1. Back to sleep, tummy to play.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that until your baby is at least one years old, you put her on her back to sleep (5). Their research shows that “babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides” (6).

2. Keep a safe sleeping area.

In order to decrease risk of SIDS, make sure to put your baby to sleep in a safety-approved crib or bassinet (7). Use a firm mattress and fitted sheet, and don’t put extra objects in the crib like pillows, blankets, or baby bumpers. Having soft objects in the crib can make it more likely for your baby to suffocate or get tangled up in something (8).

3. Room share, but don’t bed-share.

According to the AAP, sharing a room with your baby for at least the first 6 months can decrease risk of SIDS (9). Having baby nearby can help you be more responsive to his needs. Sharing a bed with your baby, on the other hand, can be very dangerous. Babies should always sleep on firm surfaces, not softer ones like an adult bed, sofa, or couch (10).

4. Breastfeed your baby if possible.

Research shows that breastfeeding has so many benefits for your baby! In addition to helping mom and baby bond and protecting your baby from illness, breastfeeding your baby actually reduces risk of SIDS (11). If you’re able to breastfeed, this is a great way to protect your baby from SIDS.

5. Don’t smoke during pregnancy or around the baby after birth.

Smoking during pregnancy is a big no-no for a lot of reasons. Not only can smoking cause health problems and birth defects, but research shows it can also increase the risk of SIDS for your baby (12). If you do smoke after the baby is born, make sure you don’t do it around your baby. The AAP recommends that you “keep your car and home smoke-free” for the sake of your little one (13).

Protect your baby!

When you bring that precious life home from the hospital, you want to do all you can to protect your baby. So follow these steps to protect your little one from SIDS!

As you follow recommended guidelines for sleeping, breastfeeding, and pregnancy, you can reduce the risk of SIDS and make sure your baby grows up healthy and strong.


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References

1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). Fast facts about SIDS.

Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/SIDS/Pages/fastfacts.aspx

2-3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, October 3). Sudden infant death

syndrome (SIDS). Retrieved from 

https://www.cdc.gov/features/sidsawarenessmonth/index.html

4. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). Fast facts about SIDS.

Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/SIDS/Pages/fastfacts.aspx

5. American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). Back to sleep, tummy to play. Retrieved from

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Back-to-Sleep-Tummy-to-Play.aspx

6-7. Yoon, R. M. (2017, January 12). How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy

explained. Retrieved from

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-t

o-Safe-Sleep.aspx

8. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.) Ways to reduce the risk of

SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Retrieved from

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/about/risk/Pages/reduce.aspx

9-10. Yoon, R. M. (2017, January 12). How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy

explained. Retrieved from

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-t

o-Safe-Sleep.aspx

11. Office on Women’s Health. (n.d.). Making the decision to breastfeed.

https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed

12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 20). Tobacco use and pregnancy.

Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/tobaccousepregnancy/index.htm

13. Yoon, R. M. (2017, January 12). How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy

explained. Retrieved from

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-t

o-Safe-Sleep.aspx

*Pictures retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sleeping_baby_with_arm_extended.jpg and https://www.flickr.com/photos/mchlibrary/28545520860, and https://www.uab.edu/news/focus-on-patient-care/item/7842-advertisers-depict-unsafe-sleeping-environments-study-shows.

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