Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an apparently, healthy child of age less than 12 months. Mostly, it occurs during sleep. The parents, who know about it, are always concerned about the safe sleep of their baby.
There is no definite known cause or treatment but you can do a lot to lower down its risks. Follow these safe sleep tips to reduce the risks of SIDS.
‘Back’ to bed
Put your baby to sleep in a supine position (completely on the back) until your baby reaches 1 year of age. Placing the baby over the belly increases the risks of SIDS as it compromises the airway protective mechanisms which may lead to hypoxia and death .
Avoid soft beddings
Soft bedding is the leading cause of suffocation deaths among infants during sleep [2, 3]. It is recommended to lay down your child on stiff sleeping surfaces like firm mattresses having fitted sheets.
No toys or pillows beside your baby
Keep the baby’s crib empty, and don’t place soft toys and fluffy pillows around. The baby’s face may press against them which may block the airways resulting in suffocation and death.
Share room but not the bed
Co-sleeping in the same bed may suffocate or overheat your child . Therefore, parents are advised to place their sleeping babies in their rooms but in separate cribs or bassinets for at least 6 months to 1 year.
Avoid overdressing the child
Dress your child suitably for the environment. Your baby should not wear more than 1 layer than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment. Thick clothes and overdressing can make your baby too warm, and increase the incidence of SIDS .
Appropriate room temperature
Experts recommend that the room in which your child sleeps should be kept between 68°F to 72°F (20° to 22.2°C) . Studies claim that bedroom heating can enhance the risks of SIDS .
Breastfeed your baby
It has been found that breastfeeding the child for at least 2 months can decrease the risk of SIDS up to 50% . The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you should breastfeed your baby exclusively or feed with expressed milk for 6 months to prevent SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths .
Offer a pacifier
Offer your babies a pacifier (having no strings or straps) when you put them to sleep. It has been observed that sucking pacifier positions the baby’s tongue forward and diminishes the chances of upper airway obstruction . It imparts a protective effect against SIDS.
Don’t rely on sleep monitors or other related products
Steer clear of sleep monitors and other commercial products that claim to reduce the risks of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises not to use such products as there is no published data available on their safety, reliability, and protectiveness against SIDS .
Immunize the infant
Vaccinate your baby as per the recommendations of health authorities. Pieces of evidence are available which show that proper immunization can cut down the risks of SIDS to almost half .
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- Jenco M. Study: Soft bedding top cause of infant suffocation during sleep [Internet]. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2021 [cited 11 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/04/22/suffocation042219
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