For new parents, the threat of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, can be one of the most terrifying, because so little is still understood or known about the condition. There is no known cause for SIDS, and no way of predicting whether or not a child is at particular risk. But there are some basic safety measures parents can follow to minimize the risk to their children.
The following risk reduction techniques come from Colorado Angel Eyes, the only organization offering awareness and educational services throughout Colorado focusing on SIDS risk reduction education.
• BACK TO SLEEP:
Always place healthy babies on their backs for rest, sleep or when left alone. Placing babies on their backs to sleep for nighttime and nap time is the single most important step that parents and other caregivers can take to reduce the risk of SIDS. Babies placed on their stomach to sleep, who normally sleep on their backs, are at a significantly greater risk for SIDS. Back to sleep must be used every time with no exceptions.
• FIRM SLEEP SURFACE:
Place your baby in a safety approved crib with a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Never place your baby to sleep on pillows, quilts, sheepskins, or other soft surfaces. Studies have found that sleeping on soft surfaces, such as couches and soft mattresses, is a significant SIDS risk factor.
• SAFE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT:
Keep pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed toys, crib bumpers and other soft objects out of your baby’s sleep area.
• NO SMOKING:
Do not allow smoking around your baby. Don’t smoke before or after the birth of your baby. Avoiding an infant’s exposure to second-hand smoke is advisable for numerous other health reasons in addition to the increased risk of SIDS.
• NO CO-SLEEPING:
Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children, but he or she can sleep in the same room as you. If you bring the baby into bed with you to breast feed, put him or her back in a separate sleep area, such as a bassinet, crib, cradle, or a bedside co-sleeper (infant bed that attaches to an adult bed) when finished. Infants should not share a crib or bed with another child.
• CLEAN, DRY PACIFIER:
Consider offering a clean, dry pacifier at naptime and bed time. Do not force an infant to use a pacifier. Do not reinsert pacifier once it falls out. For breastfed babies, the pacifier should be delayed one month to ensure breastfeeding is firmly established.
• DO NOT OVERHEAT:
The infant should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the bedroom temperature should be kept comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Over bundling should be avoided, and the infant should not feel hot to the touch.
• AVOID COMMERCIAL DEVICES MARKETED TO REDUCE THE RISK OF SIDS:
Although various devices have been developed to maintain sleep position or reduce the risk of re-breathing, none have been tested sufficiently to show efficacy or safety.
• DO NOT USE HOME MONITORS AS A STRATEGY TO REDUCE THE RISK OF SIDS:
Electronic respiratory and cardiac monitors are available to detect cardio respiratory arrest and may be of value for home monitoring of selected infants who are deemed to have extreme cardio respiratory instability. However, there is no evidence that use of such home monitors decreases the incidence of SIDS. Furthermore, there is no evidence that infants at increased risk of SIDS can be identified by in-hospital respiratory or cardiac monitoring.
• PROVIDE TUMMY TIME:
“Tummy time” is when your baby is awake and someone is watching. Change the direction that your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next. Avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, and bouncers. Tummy time also enhances motor development, head control and upper body strength.
• GOOD HEALTH CARE:
Good care starts before the pregnancy and continues throughout the pregnancy. Preconception care, prenatal care and postnatal care are important. A healthy mother is more likely to have a healthy baby. Mothers should not smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol while pregnant.
For more information, visit the Colorado Angel Eyes website.
image by Qole Pejorian