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Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Updated on July 11, 2012
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Pediatrics

SIDS is the unexplainable, sudden death of a child who is less than a year old. It is often called “crib death” because most of the children are found in their cribs. This does not mean that cribs cause death, but there are safety measures to take to prevent accidents and/or death. SIDS is the leading cause of death children from ages 1 month to 1 year old. Most SIDS cases occur between 2 and 4 months old. African American babies are 2 times more likely than white babies to die of SIDS. American Indian and Alaska Native decent children are 3 times more likely than white babies to die of SIDS.

Babies need to be placed on their backs to sleep; studies have shown that infants that sleep on their stomachs are more likely to die from SIDS. Make sure your child is put on her back for all sleep times--including naps. Babies need to sleep on a flat, firm surface free of fluffy blankets or pillows. Popular baby stores push crib bedding sets as “must haves” for new parents, but they are not necessary and pose more risk for your child. Loose bedding, toys, and crib bumpers all pose risk for suffocation and increased risk of SIDS. All you need is a standard crib mattress with a properly fitted sheet. Drape a blanket over your baby is she is chilly. Tuck loose ends under the crib as a precaution.

Even though it is convenient or you feel like you are protecting her--your baby should not sleep in bed with you. She needs to sleep in her own crib or bassinet. The baby can sleep right next to your bed if you want, but she just needs that physical separation of her own sleep space.

Put your baby to bed with a clean, dry pacifier if she is interested in taking one. It doesn’t need to be forced on her. Keeping your baby cool and comfortable will also help with sleep. Dress her in normal sleep attire and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a normal adult. There are thousands of products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS--to not rely or those or home monitors to protect your baby. Taking these simple steps will help protect your baby and give your some peace of mind.

American Academy of Pediatrics  - Baby on firm sleep surface with a fitted crib sheet.
American Academy of Pediatrics - Baby on firm sleep surface with a fitted crib sheet.

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