Each year, approximately 2,300 infants die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is most likely to affect infants under the age of 1 and typically occurs during the winter months.
While researchers still aren’t sure what causes SIDS, there are factors that put your baby at greater risk. These include:
- Being overheated during sleep
- Having a parent or caregiver who smokes
- Premature birth
- Sleeping on stomach
- Soft bedding, pillows or blankets, as well as bumper pads
Other factors such as ventilation can play a role in reducing SIDS. For example, consider running a fan in your child’s room to increase airflow. Some studies suggest that gastrointestinal or respiratory infections could increase an infant’s risk of SIDS, so consider asking loved ones to wash their hands before holding your baby.
Keep Your Child Warm and Safe
Many parents may worry their child might catch cold during the winter months and may be tempted to turn the heat up or add a blanket to their child’s crib, but your baby’s room should be comfortable enough for a clothed adult.
Signs that your baby might be overheated include:
- Damp hair
- Heat rash
- Rapid breathing
If your infant has any of these symptoms, remove blanket, wrap or extra layers of clothing.
SIDS Do’s and Don’ts
Whether you are a new parent or this is your third child, remember to keep your infant safe during a nap or bedtime.
- Do make sure your child sleeps on his or her back, not the stomach or side.
- Don’t leave anything in your child’s crib. Remember: “Nobody but baby.”
- Do invest in a firm and tight-fitting crib mattress with a fitted sheet.
- Don’t let your child sleep in your bed, but consider keeping his or her crib in your room instead.
- Do use a sleep sac. If you use a blanket, make sure it comes no higher than baby’s mid-chest and is tucked in on both sides and at the bottom of the crib.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes during or after pregnancy, and have anyone who smokes change their clothing before having contact with the baby.
Review these precautions with anyone who may be keeping your child, including family members, babysitters, nannies or childcare workers.
Reviewed by Sharon Johns, R.N., program manager, Perinatal Support Services at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital.