Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is defined as the sudden death of a healthy baby under the age of one. The rate of SIDS dropped between 1984 and 2004, which many attribute to the efforts of the American Academy of Pediatrics to get parents to put the baby to sleep on his back. The reason for this new guideline is that many people think SIDS occurs when they breathe and then re-breathe carbon dioxide in the air. When a baby is on his stomach, the carbon dioxide traps near the face.
Preventing SIDS is still necessary. While the incidence of SIDS has dropped over the years, it is still a very serious risk for babies. Fortunately, however, us parents have several ways to help reduce the chance of SIDS and protect our little ones:
- Consider sleeping separately from your baby. The blankets, pillows and sheets on an adult bed might accidentally suffocate a baby. In addition, sleeping parents might accidentally smother the baby. Instead, place the baby in a bassinet or co-sleeper that sits against the side of the parent’s bed.
- Use mesh bumpers on the crib if you feel the need to use crib bumpers. Big, soft bumpers and baby quilts are pretty to look at but may be dangerous to the baby.
- Use a soother. Studies show that babies who use a soother while sleeping are two-thirds less likely to die of SIDS.
- Avoid smoking. Secondhand smoke may increase the risk of SIDS. If there was ever a good reason to stop smoking, this is it.
- Keep the room temperature comfortable. While some parents may think the baby needs to sleep in a very warm room, this is not necessary. Place the thermostat at a comfortable sleeping temperature for adults and use a sleep sack for the baby if you are concerned that the baby will be cold.
SIDS is unspeakably tragic. Fortunately however, reducing the risk of SIDS is possible through consistent efforts on the part of the parents. Speak with your pediatrician for more information and get other tips on how to keep your baby safe and about preventing SIDS.