Doctors agree that there are no surefire ways to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or “SIDS.” There are ways, however, to reduce your baby’s risk against the leading cause of death among infants between one month and 1 year old.
- Place a sleeping baby on his back. Your baby’s risk of SIDS is higher any time he sleeps on his side or stomach before age 1, so make sure that he is on his back for naps, at night or any time he is sleeping. Also, don’t assume that sitters, family members or anybody else will place your baby in the correct position for sleep – you must insist on it.
- Breast-feed. Though expects are not sure why, breastfeeding your baby can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent. This effect is strongest if your baby breast-feeds exclusively for the first six months.
- Choose firm. Always place your baby down to sleep on a firm, safety-approved mattress. Do not let your baby sleep on chairs, couches, cushions or soft beds. Also, do not put blankets, quilts, pillows, stuffed toys or crib bumpers in your baby’s crib. All your baby crib needs is a fitted sheet.
- Immunize your baby. Babies who’ve been immunized in accordance with doctor recommendations have up to a 50 percent reduced risk of SIDS as compared with babies who aren’t fully immunized with regular check-ups.
- Sleep close to your baby, but not in the same bed. Studies show that the risk of SIDS is lower when a baby sleeps in the same room as her mom. However, never allow for your baby to sleep with another child or an adult in the same bed.
- Avoid Smoke. Babies born to women who smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die from SIDS than babies born to nonsmokers. Second-hand smoke also greatly increases the risk of SIDS, so don’t allow others to smoke around your newborn.
- Keep your baby at a comfortable temperature. If you use a blanket, make it lightweight. “Onesie” pajamas that cover hands and feet should keep your baby sufficiently warm at night.
- Use a pacifier. Using a clean pacifier at naptime or bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS. Wait until your baby is 1 month old to offer a pacifier once you’ve established a comfortable nursing routine. If the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he or she is sleeping, do not put it back in.
- Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Even if a product, such as a cardiac monitor or electronic respirator, says it can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS, most of these aren’t proven safe or effective, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
- Don’t give your baby honey. In very young children, honey can lead to botulism, and the bacteria associated with it may be linked to SIDS.
Remember, your baby’s health care provider is available should you have any questions about SIDS, and keeping your baby happy and safe. No parent can protect a baby from SIDS, but following doctors’ best practices, your whole family may rest easier.