14 Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

Written By : Claire Steve | Last Updated : 23 October 2016

What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the unexplained death of a child who is less than one year old. According to Center For Disease Control and Prevention, in the USA alone, nearly 3,500 infants die from SIDS every year. A requirement for diagnosis is that no other cause of death can be established.

In recent years certain trends in SIDS deaths have come to light, enabling The National Institute of Health (NIH) to compile a list of best practices that parents can follow in order to reduce the risks. This has caused increased awareness among parents and adults, which is a great start in the battle against SIDS.

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Risk Factors

Low-birth-weight and premature babies are the most common of all. Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy are also at increased risk.

The many other reasons as pointed out by NIH include the following:

· Abnormalities in the brain - This may prevent the baby from waking up when breathing difficulties arise, causing SIDS.

· Soft bedding - The baby’s little nose can easily be buried if the bedding is too soft.

· Sleeping position - Sleeping on the stomach or sides double the risk of SIDS as the baby may not be able to breathe properly.

· Gender of the infant - According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, the percentage of male babies died of SIDS is significantly higher than female babies.

· Age - As at 2011, American Academy of Pediatrics stated that about 90% of SIDS victims are less than 6 months old. So you need to be extra careful of your baby at this tender age.

· Young mothers - Babies born to mothers below the age of 20 are more prone to SIDS than those older.

Also Read : Best Crib Mattress 2017

Ways to Reduce the Risks

There are many things you can do to minimise your baby’s risk of SIDS. In fact, as a result of the following guidelines recommended by the Safe to Sleep Campaign, deaths related to SIDS have dropped by 50% since 1994. Here are the 14 recommendations:

1. Put the baby to sleep on his back - A baby may suffocate sleeping on his stomach or side because the face can easily come in contact with the mattress. This will block the air he inhales and eventually cause SIDS. So make sure everyone who takes care of your baby follows this until he is big enough to turn on his own.

2. A firm sleeping surface - Use a firm sleeping surface such as a crib for your baby, as opposed to a soft bedding like a sofa, pillow or quilt. One may think that an increased softness may lull the baby to sleep more, but the chances of it smothering the baby is high.

3. Smoke can choke the infant - Smoking is a definite no-no from the time you conceive. Studies prove that babies born to smoking mothers die 3 times more than babies born to non-smoking mothers. Don’t let anyone else smoke around your baby too and additionally, steer clear of alcohol and drugs.

4. Share your room with the baby, not the bed - Babies sleeping with parents have a higher risk of SIDS than those sleeping on a crib. If you’re a heavy sleeper, then you should especially consider this. You can breastfeed the baby on your bed, but put him to sleep separately on a crib or bassinet right next to your bed.

5. Crib safety standards - Get your baby a crib that meets the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you are using the crib of your previous babies, or a pre-owned crib, you still need to make sure it fits these standards for the optimal safety of your baby.

6. Remove all surrounding things - Allow plenty of ventilation for the baby and avoid placing any item such as toys and unnecessary pillows near the baby’s sleep area.

7. Prenatal care - Pregnant mothers should take proper care of the unborn baby throughout its growth stage. Regular visits to a health care provider is compulsory not only for the health of the baby, but also the mother.

8. Avoid using positioners and wedges to angle your baby’s sleeping positions. They cause discomfort and may easily obstruct respiration.

9. Breastfeeding - According to a meta-analysis conducted by the University of Virginia, breastfeeding reduces the risk related to SIDS. So breastfeed your new-born whenever possible. It’ll also improve the overall health of the mother and the infant.

10. Don’t overdress your baby - Don’t dress the baby up with too many layers of clothing, especially when the baby is asleep. Avoid overheating the room as well.

11. Vaccines and health check-ups - Stay closely in touch with a health care provider and don’t miss any appointment. Also make sure the baby is given the necessary vaccines in a timely manner. As stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, vaccines will reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%.

12. Don’t use products marketed to prevent SIDS - None of them are certified to be effective and they will do more harm than good. So stay away from such products and save your baby and hard-earned money.

13. Offer a pacifier, but don’t force - Though the reason is unclear, certain studies recommend using a pacifier during bedtime to reduce SIDS related risks. However, since certain babies do not like pacifiers, don’t force it or put it back in if it falls off the baby in mid-sleep.

14. Tummy time - When the baby is awake, give him enough time to spend on his stomach. This tummy time is essential for the growth of the muscles on the baby’s neck and more importantly, to reduce the pressure on its head.