A Guide to Your Baby's Sleep and Napping Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death, is puzzling. It has no symptoms or warning signs. Experts don't know exactly what causes it, or why it can strike healthy infants between one and 12 months of age.
What experts do know is that there's a lot you can do to prevent SIDS. We also know that since parents widely began following the steps below, the SIDS rate in the United States has dropped more than 50%. 10 Steps for SIDS Prevention Always put baby to sleep on his or her back, every single time. When babies sleep on their sides or stomachs, their risk for SIDS is very high. So, every time you put baby to sleep -- for naps, at night, or any time -- put your child to sleep on his or her back. Then make sure everyone who takes care of your baby, like grandparents, babysitters, and others, know to use the back sleep position every time. When babies who usually sleep on their backs are suddenly put to sleep on their stomachs, they have a very high risk for SIDS.
If you’re worried your baby might choke while sleeping on his or her back, don't be. Choking is very rare and healthy babies tend to swallow or cough up fluids automatically. Additionally, you can discuss elevating the head of your baby's bed with your pediatrician. Use a firm sleep surface, and keep soft toys and bedding away from baby.
To prevent smothering or suffocation, always put baby to sleep on a firm surface, like a safety-approved mattress with a fitted sheet. Don't include blankets, quilts, pillows, sheepskin, or crib bumpers in baby's crib. Not sure about the safety of your baby's mattress, crib, or bumpers?
Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov.
Don't smoke around your baby. Smoking when you're pregnant is a major risk factor for SIDS, and second-hand smoke around your infant also increases the chances of SIDS. Don't let anyone smoke around your baby.
Have your baby sleep nearby, but not in your bed. When baby sleeps in the same room as mom, studies show it lowers the risk of SIDS. But it's dangerous for a baby to sleep with an adult in the same bed, on an armchair, or on a couch. If you bring baby into your bed for comforting or breastfeeding, be sure to put baby back in his own cradle, bassinet, crib, or co-sleeper (a crib-like bed that attaches to an adult bed) when you're ready to sleep. And never bring the baby to bed with you when you're very tired or using medications that affect your alertness.
Consider breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your baby can lower the risk of SIDS by as much as half, though experts aren't sure why. Some think breast milk may protect babies from infections that increase their SIDS risk.
Putting baby to sleep with a pacifier may also help prevent SIDS, though researchers aren't sure why. There are a few tips to follow when using a pacifier: If you're breastfeeding, wait until your baby is at least one month before starting to use a pacifier. Introducing a pacifier too soon can lead to nipple confusion, and cause baby to prefer the pacifier's nipple over your own.
Don't force baby to take the pacifier if he or she doesn't want it. Put the pacifier in baby's mouth when you put them down to sleep, but don't put it back in baby's mouth after they fall asleep.
Keep the pacifier clean, and buy a new one if the nipple is damaged. Don't coat the pacifier with honey, alcohol, or any other substance.
Keep baby from overheating. Because overheating may increase a baby's risk of SIDS, dress your infant in light, comfortable clothes for sleeping, and keep the temperature in their room at a level that's comfortable for an adult. If you're worried about baby staying warm, dress them in a "onesie," pajamas that cover arms, legs, hands, and feet. Remember, don't use a blanket, as baby can get tangled in it or pull the blanket over his or her face. Steer clear of products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. It's best to avoid any product that says it can reduce your baby's risk of SIDS because most aren't proven safe or effective.
Cardiac monitors and electronic respirators also haven't been proven to reduce SIDS risk, so avoid these, too. Don't give honey to an infant under one year old. Because honey can lead to botulism in very young children, never give honey to a child under one year old. Botulism and the bacteria that cause it may be associated with SIDS.
Remember, your baby's health care provider is always available to answer any questions you have about SIDS, SIDS prevention, and keeping your baby warm, happy, and safe. Immunize your baby. Evidence shows babies who’ve been immunized in accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have half the risk of SIDS as babies who aren’t fully immunized.