Tips On How To Reduce The Risk Of SIDS

How To Reduce The Risk Of SIDS
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

October is SIDS Awareness Month, which is a topic that is very important to every member of the Bella Luna team. When offering advice to exhausted parents, we are always talking about safe sleep to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS. The safety of you and your babies is of paramount importance!

In today’s post, I will be sharing tips that you can implement at home on how to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby.

What is SIDS?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.  – Mayo Clinic

Not all unexpected infant deaths are a result of SIDS.  Many deaths are attributed to accidental suffocation, parent neglect, and underlying medical conditions

What causes SIDS?

That’s the tricky part about SIDS.  The cause of death can’t be determined even after a complete medical exam.  These undiagnosed, unexpected deaths fall into the SIDS category.

Although we can’t prevent SIDS 100%, there are identifiable risk factors that contribute to SIDs, including:

  • Sleeping environment – babies who sleep with their parents; babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides; overheating babies; and babies who sleep with soft bedding or loose blankets are more likely to die of SIDS
  • Physical factors – low birth weight/prematurity, respiratory issues, and brain abnormalities all increase the risk of SIDS
  • Other risk factors:
    • Babies are at the highest risk in their 2nd and 3rd months of life
    • Babies exposed to cigarette smoke (before and after birth) have a higher risk of SIDS
    • Boys are more susceptible to SIDS deaths than girls
    • Non-white infants are more likely to develop SIDS
    • Babies who have a family history of SIDS are at a greater risk

How Can You Reduce The Risk Of SIDS

While there isn’t a way to prevent SIDS completely, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Lifestyle Factors

  • PRENATAL CARE: while pregnant, get adequate prenatal care.
  • AVOID CIGARETTE SMOKE: while pregnant and after the baby is born, don’t expose your child to cigarette smoke.
  • PACIFIER: if your baby readily accepts a pacifier, offering one at bedtime and at naptime may reduce the risk of SIDS. Ensure that the pacifier is not attached to the baby with a string or strap.  If your baby doesn’t like the pacifier, don’t force it.  To help preserve sleep if the pacifier falls out while your baby is sleeping, don’t put it back in.
  • BREASTFEEDING: I’m #teamfeedyourbaby, but if possible, breastfeeding for at least six months has shown to lower the risk of SIDS
  • IMMUNIZATIONS: this may help to prevent SIDS.
  • NIX WEARABLE BABY MONITORS: do not use wearable baby monitors or other commercial devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. The AAP discourages the use of wearable baby monitors and other devices because of the ineffectiveness and safety issues.

Safe Sleep Space

For more information and resources, please visit the following:

  • ABCs OF SAFE SLEEP: baby, ALONE, on their BACK, in a safe CRIB environment
  • ALONE: room-sharing is encouraged for the first 6 months, but not bed-sharing.  Babies are safest sleeping in their own sleep space.  Babies should sleep outside of their parent’s bed and not on soft surfaces.  Soft surfaces include pillow-top mattresses, pillows, comforters, chairs, couches, and sheepskin. Adult beds aren’t safe for infants as babies can become trapped and suffocate between the mattress and the wall / bedframe.  Many sleep-related infant deaths are a result of a parent accidentally rolling over and covering the baby’s nose and mouth.
  • BACK: for the first year of life, put your baby down to sleep on his or her back, rather than the tummy or side. Once your baby can roll both ways consistently, they can choose their sleep position, but always place them down on their backs.  Insist all caregivers do the same – ensure this is a part of your conversation when you are looking at daycares, nannies and babysitters and also when grandparents and family members are watching your baby.
  • CRIB: the crib or bassinet should be bare.  A firm mattress, fitted sheet, and your baby are all you want in the crib. No toys, stuffed animals, bumpers, blankets, or pillows – all of these are suffocation risks.

Room Tips

PREVENT OVERHEATING: dress your baby in light layers and keep the room at a comfortable 68-72 degrees. Avoid using loose blankets and opt for a sleep sack if you are concerned that your baby is warm enough.

AIR CIRCULATION: running a fan in your baby’s room can increase air circulation, which has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Want to learn more?

What can you do to help raise awareness and reduce the risk of SIDS? 

  • Follow the suggestions above. 
  • Share this blog post with your friends and family on social media! 
  • Want to setup a healthy sleep environment from the start? Sign up for a newborn sleep consultation.

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