One of the things that parents of infants worry most about is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. SIDS is described as the unexplained death of an otherwise healthy infant in the first year of life. Although there is no way to guarantee the complete safety of your baby, there are a number of things you can do to minimize the risks:
- Preventing SIDS begins even before your child's birth.
Breastfeed your baby, if possible. There is some evidence that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of SIDS.
Choose a firm, flat crib mattress and do not use pillows, blankets or stuffed toys in the child's crib. If you choose to use bumpers, be sure that they are properly secured and allow for air flow.
Always put your baby down to sleep on his back. Never lay a baby down to sleep on his tummy or side; both positions increase the risk of SIDS. Once the baby is old enough to roll over well on his own (typically 4-7 months), there is no need to reposition a sleeping baby if he chooses an alternate sleeping position.
Do not allow your baby to sleep in your bed with you. You will likely be exhausted for the first several months of your baby's life and it can be tempting to bring the baby into your bed, but by doing so you are putting his/her life at risk. It is okay to bring the baby to your bed for feedings, but the baby should then be returned to her own crib to sleep.
It is a good idea to place the baby's crib in your room.
Do not allow your baby to become overheated. Dress your baby in light clothing for sleep and keep the room at a comfortable, but not hot, temperature. If you are comfortable in light clothing, the room will be just right for your baby, too.
Use of a pacifier during the first year may decrease the incidence of SIDS. If your baby enjoys using a pacifier, lay the child down to sleep with a pacifier in his/her mouth. There is no need to replace it if the pacifier falls out of the baby's mouth during sleep.
Protect your baby from exposure to second-hand smoke. Babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke are two times more likely to die from SIDS than those who are in a non-smoking environment.
Make sure you secure well baby care for your child. Babies who have access to regular medical care have a lower incidence of SIDS, possibly because of their overall improved health.
- Be sure to see your doctor on a regular basis during your pregnancy. Studies show that babies of mothers who received proper prenatal care have a lower incidence of SIDS than those of mothers who received no care.
- Do not smoke. Babies of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy are three times more likely to die from SIDS than the babies of non-smoking mothers.