The possibility that you can lay your baby down to sleep never to wake again is a nightmare that stalks the thoughts of new parents. Although cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have decreased dramatically, it remains the leading cause of death among infants ages 1 to 12 months
Most SIDS deaths occur between months 2 and 4. By definition, SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. The cause remains unclear, but experts have ruled out suffocation, vomiting, choking, infection, metabolic disorders, birth defects and immunizations. Mounting evidence indicates that SIDS may occur in babies born with a heart or brain abnormality that affects breathing, heart rate or arousal.
Not all children are at risk for SIDS. But experts recommend that you play it safe by following these simple guidelines:
- Place your baby to sleep on his or her back. Tummy or side positioning may impair your baby’s airway. A campaign to urge back sleeping for babies is credited with a 50 percent decrease in SIDS deaths between 1994 and 2002.
- Use a crib or a bassinet. Adult beds simply aren’t safe. Make sure the crib has a firm mattress. Avoid thick, fluffy bedding such as comforters or sheepskin and remove any stuffed toys.
- Ban smoking. Always provide a smoke-free environment.
- Try a pacifier. Wait until your baby is a month old and breastfeeding is going well.
- Avoid overheating. Room temperature should be comfortable for you. Don’t overdress your baby.