SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is also known in places around the world as Cot Death. SIDS is when a baby under 12 months dies in their sleep, with no warning or reason. As SIDS can be a mystery, there is no cure. It is not a disease but a complex prognosis of which parents can help prevent by following some guidelines to make baby's sleep state more safe and comfortable.
When a baby sleeps on their back, it is the safest position possible to prevent SIDS. This is especially relevant for the first six months or so when the baby cannot roll over on their own. After this point, if they choose to roll over to find a more comfortable position then you may just have to let them do it. But for the first stages, back is best. If you lay a child down on their front, or even in some cases, on the side, and they are unable to roll over on their own. They may risk smothering or suffocation especially if they are not used to being anywhere but on their back.
A baby waving its arms around can easily fling up a blanket over its head. The risk here is that because they have no control over their limbs for the first few months of life, they will not know how to take the blanket off their face. Therefore, there is a high chance of suffocation. You do not need blankets in the baby's crib; the baby will keep warm, cozy, and importantly, safe when sleeping in a baby sleeping sack. Sleeping sacks come with or without armholes and sleeves, and there is no chance that they can be pulled over the head.
Soft toys: the stores are full of them, and it is one of the most popular gifts for a new baby. They are great to cuddle, but to prevent SIDS, it is recommended not to put any soft toys in the baby's crib until after one year old. The baby can easily dislodge the toy from its position, and they are a high-risk factor when it comes to suffocation, especially if the fibers of the toy are of a synthetic nature. Best to keep the toys for playing, and a bed for sleeping.
This stands for not just when the baby is born, but when you are pregnant as well. Studies have shown that babies who are born to women, who had smoked during their pregnancies, are three times more likely to die from SIDS. Obviously, smoking while pregnant is a huge risk factor, but secondhand smoke for babies also has damaging effects and can lead to the increased chance of SIDS. For the health of your baby in the womb and its developmental growth both in utero and after birth, it is advised not to smoke while pregnant.
If your baby takes a pacifier, this may help prevent SIDS. Health professionals don't know the exact reason why it helps, but studies show that babies with pacifiers tend to go to sleep better and a pacifier can tend to regulate breathing and sucking patterns. However, if the pacifier falls out of the mouth after they are asleep, don't try to put it back in. It is wise to wait until your baby is completely comfortable with breastfeeding, around one month or more, before offering a pacifier, but some babies won't take one at all, and there's not point forcing it on them.
Breastfeeding your baby, if you can do it, is an excellent way to prevent SIDS, as experts believe it can lower the risk of death by up to 50%. It all has to do with the nutrients in your breast milk, and the skin-to-skin touch that happens when you breastfeed. These natural occurrences are hugely beneficial to growth and strength for your baby's immune system and developmental stages. This is why it is also important to keep healthy yourself as a mother while breastfeeding, as everything you have goes into your baby.
If you have a very soft mattress in the baby's crib or use a soft quilt or lambskin, please be aware this could raise the risk of SIDS for your baby. These fabrics may interfere with your baby's breathing if their face is pressed against them. They may find themselves in this position from rolling over in their sleep, and the risk is heightened if they already have a cold and cannot breathe properly. Best to use a firm mattress, covered with a pure cotton sheet and leave out the lambskin, fluffy blanket throw or pillows.
A newborn baby is recommended to sleep in the same room as its mother for the first year of life. There have been studies that prove that sleeping in the same room lowers the chance of SIDS related deaths in infants less than one year of age. Have the crib or bassinet next to your bed, or you can even get a crib that can be attached directly to the side of your bed for ease of feeding and sleeping. Having them close helps their sleep, and yours.
Overheating may increase the risk of SIDS in young babies because there is no way for them to regulate their body temperature. In the room where the baby sleeps, makes sure the temperate is that which is comfortable for adults and dress your baby in light and comfortable clothing. Onesies work best as it covers the feet, and hands if you desire, and it is not too loose. Then pop them in a sleeping sack to keep cozy. Sleeping sacks are available in many different weights and fabrics.
There are some products on the market that claim to lessen the risk of SIDS. It is, however, highly likely that they can because there is no scientific research to say otherwise and it is probable that they haven't been proven to be 100% safe, or even effective. There are also such devices such as cardiac monitors for the home or electric respirators, that haven't been proven to reduce SIDS in any way. Best to avoid any products that claim to lessen the risk of SIDS.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.