Whether you choose to co-sleep, share a room with baby or place your baby in a crib, there are several easy guidelines you should follow to and prevent SIDS and ensure your baby’s sleep environment is safe. I know SIDS is a scary topic but one we must discuss to protect the health and welfare of our children. Experts define SIDS as the sudden, unexplained death of an otherwise healthy infant under the age of one. It occurs when babies are sleeping, which is why it is also referred to as “crib death.” It is the leading cause of death in infants under age 12 months, and occurs most often in infants between the ages of 2-4 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Here are 5 tips to help you create a safe sleep environment for your baby.
BREASTFEED AS MUCH AND FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN.
Studies show that breastfeeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are having a hard time with breastfeeding, don’t give up. Reach out to your pediatrician, OB/GYN, nurse practitioner or community mothers group for referrals to a qualified Lactation Consultant. Breastfeeding has wonderful health benefits for both you and baby.
SCHEDULE AND GO TO ALL WELL-CHILD VISITS.
Recent evidence suggests that immunizations may have a protective effect against SIDS. Here’s what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has to say on the matter, “From 2 to 4 months old, babies begin their primary course of vaccinations. This is also the peak age for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The timing of these two events has led some people to believe they might be related. However, studies have concluded that vaccinations are not a risk factor for SIDS.” I encourage you to read the CDC’s complete article for more details.
OFFER A PACIFIER AT NAP TIME AND BEDTIME.
Some studies show a lower rate of SIDS among babies who suck on pacifiers. Here’s one caveat the Mayo Clinic had to offer, “If you’re breast-feeding, wait to offer a pacifier until your baby is 1 month old and you’ve settled into a comfortable nursing routine. If your baby’s not interested in the pacifier, try again later. If the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he or she is sleeping, don’t pop it back in.”
ALWAYS PLACE YOUR INFANT ON HIS OR HER BACK TO SLEEP, EVEN FOR A SHORT NAP.
Make sure baby’s caregivers also follow this practice. A baby who sleeps on its back at home, but on its stomach elsewhere (a practice known as “unaccustomed tummy sleeping”) is at a much greater risk of SIDS, according to the AAP. If you are worried about Plagiocephaly (or flat head syndrome) ensure your baby has adequate tummy time when they’re awake. Recently several products have come on the market which help with Plagiocephaly prevention. Do your research to find the solution which is right for your family.
MAKE SURE BABY IS SLEEPING ON A FIRM CRIB MATTRESS NOT CUSHIONED FURNITURE LIKE SOFAS OR LOVESEATS.
Co-sleeping parents, it best to select a firm mattress (without a pillow top or soft covering) and sleep on a bed close to their floor. Remove all heavy bed covering (i.e. comforters, blankets) and opt for sheets instead. Don’t allow pets or other children to sleep in bed with your infant. Be sure to the do the “two fingers” test: if you can fit two fingers between the mattress and bed frame, it’s not safe for your baby’s sleep. Try a co-sleeper instead.
I’m enjoying spending the month of November with your family and sharing all this wonderful sleep tips. You’ll have a rockstar sleeper in no time 🙂
Where does your baby sleep?
Btw, if you’re digging the crib I used in the image above, you can snag one at IKEA