In one year, all across this country, approximately 2,500 infants die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS. SIDS awareness is critical. If you are not familiar with that term, SIDS is the unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant during sleep. Prior to 1992, most babies in the United States slept on their stomachs. In 1992, after researchers discovered that infants were approximately 12 times more likely to be found on their stomachs than on their backs when they had died of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that all infants be placed to sleep on their backs or sides. Later, the side position was eliminated from the recommendation because infants could roll from their sides to their stomachs in their sleep. Since that original sleep position recommendation was made by the AAP in 1992, 50% fewer infants have died from SIDS. Putting babies to sleep on their backs turned out to be a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome!
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Following these recommendations reduces the risk of SIDS.
- Position your infant on their back to sleep.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface.
- Your baby can be brought into your bed for feeding or comforting, but return your baby to her back in her crib when you are ready to go to sleep.
- Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies.
- Room share by keeping baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep, ideally for the first 6 months.
- Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area.
- Do not let your baby fall asleep on nursing pillows or pillow-like lounging pads.
- Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
- It is fine to swaddle your baby. However, make sure that your baby is always on her back when you swaddle her.
- Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Set up a separate but proximate sleeping environment.
- Do not smoke or use any nicotine products during pregnancy or around your baby. Secondhand smoke increases baby’s risk of SIDS.
- Avoid alcohol, marijuana, opioid, and illicit drug use during pregnancy.
- Don’t let your baby overheat. She should be lightly clothed for sleep, with the bedroom temperature remaining comfortable.
- Use a crib, bassinet, or play yard. These have safety standards. Never let your baby sleep on a couch, armchair, cushion, or adult bed.
- Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. Research reveals that sleep positioners (flat or wedged mats with side bolsters) pose a risk of suffocation because a baby can get trapped and suffocate between the sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet.
- Don’t let your baby share a bed.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care.
- Do not rely on home monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- There is no evidence that home monitors decrease the incidence of SIDS.
- Keep immunizations up to date.