Learn How to Manage the Risk of SIDS
When it comes to baby, most parents get a pit in their stomach at the very thought of SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden and unexpected death of an otherwise healthy baby. While there is no obvious reason of SIDS, research indicates that it may be caused by low levels of oxygen or a build up of carbon dioxide in the blood. This can happen when babies sleep face down and they inhale their exhaled air. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that all babies be put to sleep on their backs, always, always, always!
In the United States alone, around 1,000 babies die of SIDS every year and while there is no way to 100% protect your baby from SIDS, there are a lot of actions you can take to greatly reduce the risks. Keep reading to find out more about SIDS prevention.
How is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome prevented?
Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the rate of SIDS has drastically decreased. Their safe sleep recommendations in 1992 included the "Back to Sleep" campaign which strongly encouraged that ALL babies be put to sleep on their backs for all sleep –naps and nighttime - by every caregiver. This reduced the risk of SIDS by more than 50% - hooray!
More recently, guidelines also call for “Bare is Best.” In this case, “bare” simply means that baby should be put to sleep in an empty crib. Just baby, on his back, in a onesie or sleep sack, on a firm mattress and that is it! No bedding, no blankets, no pillows and no soft toys! This helps to avoid accidental suffocation which is one of the believed causes of SIDS.
The chances of SIDS appear to be greatest for infants between 1-4 months, and greatly seem to decline by the 1-year mark. So until then, to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, please put baby to sleep on his back for all sleep and remember that bare is best!
How to prevent SIDS in babies?
While there’s no 100% guarantee to prevent SIDS, a good place to start is your baby’s sleep space. A safe sleep environment should also be a healthy sleep environment that creates a safe sleep space for baby. According to the AAP, follow this acronym for the ABC’s of safe sleep to help reduce the chances of SIDS:
- A – ALONE. Baby should always sleep alone but in the same room as her caregiver
- B – BACK. Baby should always, always, always, be put to sleep on her back – both for naps and nighttime sleep.
- C – CRIB. Baby should sleep in a crib or co-sleeper with a firm mattress and snug-fitting sheet – that is it! No bumpers, no extra bedding, no cuddle toys!
Are there warning signs of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
One of the saddest and most frightening things about SIDS is that there are no symptoms or warning signs, or one main cause of SIDS. Babies who die unexpectedly, typically seem healthy when they’re put down to sleep. There are no signs of distress, and they are often found in the same position as when they were put down to sleep.
When does the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome go down?
The chances of SIDS appear to be greatest between 1-4 months, and greatly seem to decline by the 1-year mark. So until then, please put baby to sleep on her back for all sleep while keeping in mind that “bare is best!” Even at 6 months, when your baby may be rolling from back to front, still start him on his back. While research indicates that sleeping on stomach may be a factor in SIDS, if he rolls onto his tummy, it’s okay as long as he knows how to roll over. If not, gently roll him onto his back to help prevent the risks of SIDS.
What are significant risk factors for SIDS?
Stomach sleeping is probably the greatest risk factor for SIDS and why the ABC’s of safe sleep are essential in SIDS prevention. According to the Mayo Clinic, other risk factors may include:
Gender: Boys are slightly more likely to die of SIDS.
- Age: Infants are most vulnerable between the second and fourth months of life.
- Race: For reasons that aren't well-understood, nonwhite infants are more likely to develop SIDS
- Family history: Babies who've had siblings or cousins die of SIDS are at higher risk of SIDS
- Secondhand smoke: Babies who live with smokers have a higher risk of SIDS
- Babies born prematurely: Both being born early and having a low birth weight increase your baby's chances of SIDS.
Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome rare?
SIDS is rare in that the numbers are statistically low, however due to its unexplained causes, it is best to take every measure possible to help prevent SIDS from happening.
What age does SIDS reduce?
While the causes of SIDS are still largely a mystery, it is commonly believed that babies between 1 and 4 months are at the highest risk. This risk decreases at around 6 months and becomes rare after the one year mark.
How can you prevent SIDS when sleeping?
Remember the ABC’s of safe sleep (see above). Baby should always sleep Alone (no co-sleeping or bed-sharing), always be put to sleep on his Back, and put in a Crib that has a firm mattress with no extra bedding, blankets, or toys.
How should you put a newborn baby to sleep to prevent sudden infant death syndrome?
Baby should always, Always, ALWAYS be put to sleep on his back – for naps and nighttime – by all caregivers, always! This will help to reduce the risk of SIDS as sleeping on his back is the safest sleep position until baby reaches his first birthday.