It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – walking in to check on their sleeping baby only to find them not breathing and unresponsive. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is when a baby under the age of 1 that seems perfectly healthy dies in his or her sleep. More than 2,000 babies succumb to SIDS each year in the U.S.
While SIDS often strikes without warning, there are ways to cut back on your child’s risks.
Your Baby Should Sleep on Its Back
Once experts recommended to start having babies sleep on their backs at night instead of their stomachs, the rates of SIDS decreased dramatically, by as much as 50 percent. You won’t leave the hospital after having your baby without a nurse telling you the back is the safest sleeping position for your baby.
But since that campaign wasn’t introduced until 1994, you’ll have to convince your child’s grandparents it’s the best position for sleeping. They likely had their children sleep on their stomachs back then because that was what people did. We know better now though, and it’s your job to ensure your child’s grandparents are properly educated about the new rule and that they respect it.
Sometimes the older generation can believe something is safe because they did it with their babies and they managed to survive. So be prepared to have to show them articles about how sleeping on the back decreases a baby’s risk of SIDS.
Introduce a Pacifier
Few pieces of baby gear are as controversial as the pacifier. Some parents love them, and others despise them. One of the biggest benefits of using a pacifier is that they reduce the rate of SIDS by as much as 90 percent, according to some studies.
Does that mean you should run right out and pick up some pacifiers? That depends because they also have some drawbacks too. But if your primary concern is SIDS, it might be wise to do so.
Don’t Smoke Around Your Baby
Hopefully, your baby’s mother didn’t smoke while carrying your child because that can increase the risk of SIDS. But if your baby is already born, that ship has sailed. You can’t control what has already happened, but you can change what is happening now around your baby.
Make sure no one smokes around your baby because smoke can increase the risk of developing SIDS. Hopefully, most people know they shouldn’t smoke around children, but if you see it happening, you need to enforce that rule and get your child away from that situation.
No Toys in the Crib
It can be tempting to give your child a stuffed animal to sleep with – something cuddly for them to enjoy. But you should not do that with your baby because that stuffed animal presents a suffocation hazard.
If you swaddle your baby, its arms will be tucked firmly in its blanket. And if that stuffed animal rolls toward your baby, it could block their airflow, and they would be powerless to do anything to stop it.
Keep the Pillows and Loose Blankets Out of the Crib Too
While you may think it would be uncomfortable to sleep without a pillow, your baby won’t feel that way. They don’t have the same back issues that adults have so they’ll be perfectly comfortable without a pillow.
Using a pillow can suffocate your child because if they turn sideways while they are sleeping, their nose and mouth will be blocked. Keep your baby safe by saving the pillows for when your baby becomes a toddler.
As far as loose blankets, your baby doesn’t need that either. You can either swaddle them tightly in a blanket or let them rest in a sleep sack.
Don’t Overdress Your Baby
Being overheated makes your baby more prone to SIDS. You don’t need to have them too bundled up when they go to sleep.
You can have them in a short-sleeved bodysuit and then just use one blanket to swaddle them. You should also keep your baby’s room cool. A temperature of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for your baby’s room.
Don’t Share Your Bed
You love your child, and it can be tempting to never let them out of your sight. So many parents figure sleeping with their baby offers the perfect solution. You’ll be an arm’s length away when they start fussing, and you’ll get to snuggle them all night. But letting your baby sleep in your bed is dangerous for them and increases the risk of SIDS.
Instead of sharing a bed, consider sharing a bedroom instead. Bringing your child’s crib into your room for the first six months at least will allow you the opportunity to have them near without causing any suffocation risks.
This blog is part of Fathers Incorporated‘s Drive To Five campaign. The campaign design seeks to reduce father absence by engaging dads at the early stages of their child’s development, which makes them more likely to continue their involvement through all of the stages of their development. For more information visit www.drivetofive.org