SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a new parent's greatest fear. SIDS, also sometimes known as "crib death," describes the sudden and unexpected death of a healthy baby, a death which cannot be explained even after all possible causes have been ruled out. Minimize your baby's risk of SIDS with these points.

Supervise "Tummy Time"

Babies need tummy time on a daily basis to strengthen shoulder and neck muscles. However, never leave your baby alone while on his or her tummy. If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, don't leave your baby in this position.

Don't Share a Bed with Your Baby

If you're breastfeeding, return your baby to his or her own bassinet, cradle or safety-approved crib to sleep. Co-sleeping can be unsafe to babies in some cases due to blankets, quilts, pillows, softer surfaces and people who can roll over on them. Soft mattresses, waterbeds, sofas and sheepskins are all potentially dangerous to your baby. If you do co-sleep for breastfeeding, be sure your baby sleeps on his or her back at all times.

Have Your Baby's Bed in Your Bedroom

Sharing a bedroom (not a bed) with your baby has been linked to a reduction in SIDS cases. Place your baby's bassinet, cradle or crib in close proximity to where you sleep for the first year. Be sure your baby's bed meets current safety standards and has not been recalled. Never have your baby sleep in a crib with a "bumper."

Make Sure Your Baby Always Sleeps on His or Her Back

This applies to bedtime as well as naptime. Evidence shows putting your baby to sleep on his or her back is the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS. This may contradict what your mother or grandmother was told when their children were babies, but research now shows fewer babies die of SIDS when they sleep on their backs compared to babies put to sleep on their stomachs. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all healthy babies younger than 1 year old be put to sleep on their backs. Following that recommendation in 1992, the SIDS rate dropped significantly. If your baby has been diagnosed with having chronic gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD), or if you have any other health concerns, contact your baby's doctor to determine which is the best sleep option.

Avoid Overheating Your Baby

Getting overheated is a risk factor for SIDS; therefore, don't overdress your baby. Too many layers of blankets and excessive clothing during sleep is not a good idea. If your baby is sick, avoid the urge to bundle him or her up more than usual. Also, keep the room temperature comfortable. If you're too warm, your baby is most likely too warm, too.

Keep Things Away from Your Baby's Face and Head During Sleep

It's far too easy for your baby's mouth and nose to get covered by blankets and pillows during sleep. To keep your baby's face clear, use a footed-sleeper as clothing, but no blanket. If you choose to use a blanket, be sure it's tucked in around the crib mattress and comes up no higher on your baby than his or her chest.

Stay Smoke-Free During Pregnancy and After

By not smoking during and after your baby is born, you are reducing your baby's risk for SIDS. Secondhand smoke exposure is high on the list for SIDS risk factors, so make sure no one else smokes around your baby, either.

Spread the Word

Educate and inform everyone you know - most especially those who care for your baby - about these important steps to reduce the SIDS risk. This includes the baby's grandparents and your friends, babysitters, child care providers, and other children - anyone and everyone whom you might leave your baby with. Approximately one in five SIDS deaths occurs while the baby is being cared for by someone other than his or her parent.

More Baby Safety and Child Proofing Tips

Safety Latches and Locks
Corner and Edge Bumpers
Safety Gates
Outlet Covers and Outlet Plates
Door Knob Covers and Door Locks
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector
Anti-Scald Devices
Window Blind Cords/Safety Tassels
Smoke Detectors
Door Stops and Door Holders
Window Guards and Safety Netting
Cordless Phones