SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a horrible thing. I think it is something all parents have had to come to terms with. The reality of parenthood is that you truly can’t control ALL things, but science has made a few things you can control with your newborn to give you SOME peace of mind and remove some risk factors (although you can easily follow every precaution and all safe sleep recommendations and it just happens – my heart goes out to every single family affected by SIDS).
As an L&D nurse for 16 year I’ve educated countless families on SIDS precautions and I’m excited to share them with you!
Looking for more advice before you have your baby — do not miss this Online Prenatal Class for Couples — created for busy couples to allow them to easily get in their important childbirth education.
I am a huge safe sleep advocate, and if you’re a listener — don’t miss this podcast I did recently on safe sleep:
SIDS seems to be without cause at this point. It seems to be a hot button topic on facebook lately (at least in my feed). It’s when a baby dies without any apparent medical cause. Here are 8 things you can do in your own home that scientific studies have shown seem to help reduce your baby’s risk of sudden unexpected infant death.
What is sids and how to prevent it
1. Back to sleep. They will beat this sleep position into you in the hospital. Most of our moms laid us on our bellies when we were babies. It sort of makes sense, if you spit-up it just comes out on the sheet instead of making the baby gag. However, science has now proven that putting the baby on their back to sleep is the safest way. SIDS deaths have totally fallen since this initiative. Be SURE your little one gets tons of tummy time so they use all their muscles.
2. Use a fan. Kaiser Permanente was relentless on their SIDS precautions when I had Princess P. I thought this one was interesting. I know some of the major theories involve the baby unable to move their air very far when they breathe out (hence, they just keep breathing in and out the same air, slowly taking all the oxygen) and the fan will help circulate the air more. We usually used something like this.
3. Use a pacifier. I haven’t really figured this one out, but studies show it is true. We used these.
4. Don’t fall asleep with the baby in your bed. I’ve seen a lot of things on Facebook about co-sleeping is great. The reality is, that your baby isn’t much bigger than a stuffed animal and you are going to be TIRED. I’ve seen parents who have suffocated their own baby. You will never get over it. You’ll just have to decide what works for you. But generally you can reduce the risk of accidental suffocation by having a separate sleep area for your baby.
5. Have the baby sleep in your room. There are awesome ways like bassinets, a portable crib or co sleepers that allow the baby to sleep very close to you in a safe sleep environment without the dangers. This will promote breastfeeding and bonding. For me, it didn’t work. I counted respirations on the baby and I couldn’t sleep with the thought of sleep-related deaths looming in my head (and it looms hard). I ultimately had to let it go and put them in their own room. Again, you have to decide what works for you. I also was unable to breastfeed, so I had to get up to get a bottle anyway. Parents who decide your baby’s crib needs to be in another room LOVE the Owlet Monitor (find it here).
6. No bumper pads, pillows, stuffed animals, or other soft objects in the crib. I know, your baby doesn’t move — surely it’s fine to have a pile of adorable stuffed animals at the bottom of the crib, but it’s just not. Babies don’t need a pillow or crib bumpers. Save them for their big kid bed. A fitted sheet (you want to avoid loose bedding) on a firm mattress is perfect for your baby’s sleep area. Also, a safety-approved crib is the best way to help create a safe place for your baby to sleep.
7. There is some evidence that swaddling can be an issue. Using something like a halo sleep sac or other sleep sack can keep your baby warm without the risks.
8. Don’t Smoke. Cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke really increases the incidence of sids cases. A great reason to quit if you have a little one!
SIDS is currently not preventable!
While no one can PREVENT SIDS (we can’t prevent something we don’t understand) I have recently taken note of the Owlet baby monitor (that’s my post about it). I think that it might help moms, like my friend — Michelle (I helped deliver her first baby) sleep a little more soundly knowing the Owlet will alarm if baby’s oxygen saturation levels get too low during sleep times. It’s VERY cool! You can learn more about it here too. We don’t know the unknown causes of sids, but the good news is there are products like this to help prevent crib death.
So, that’s it. 8 fairly easy safe sleep practices to reduce SIDS risk that might give you some peace of mind. Hopefully knowing what can cause increased risk of unexpected infant deaths can help continue to lower the cases. And again, to any family ever affected by SIDS my heart goes out to you. It’s a silent killer that hurts so very much.
Hey, love this article! Concerning the pacifier: it seems like the sucking on the pacifier helps babys to remember breathing, so they are less likely to stop breathing when they have one.
debra frey says
I lost a baby due to SIDS in 1987…the worst time of my life, obviously! Thank you for helping others avoid this heart breaking syndrome. I am happy to be able to pass these tips on to my children and any others with tiny, precious infants.
My goodness. I hear that is a hurt that never goes away. My heart goes out to you.
This means giving them a pacfier at night right?
I agree with all of these things. Number 7 swaddling caught me off guard. I haven’t ever heard that it could be linked to SIDS. I believe the exact opposite. Both of my babies couldn’t roll over as infants and the swaddle kept them warm without putting blankets in the crib. As they grew and became stronger they could roll over but they were also able to move there head. We swaddled them until they were almost a year old. One thing I didn’t see on the list was Smoking. http://www.baby-sleep-advice.com/smoking-and-sids.html
Yeah, when we were teaching it when we moved to AZ I was surprised. And YES smoking is TOTALLY one! Good call!
I can see where it’s an issue because my grandson at once month rolls over in the swaddle wrap . He does hold his head up good but would get tired quick., there is no way he could do it for a few hours.
Hilary Erickson says
I’m a huge swaddling fan, and, if they can roll themselves it’s OK (so they say). 🙂
I just had my first this may, (still in the paranoid stage. ) the pacifier is believed to keep the airways open still and it helps them not get in a too deep of sleep but rather a lighter one. Thanks for these tips. I’ve never heard the fan but good to know
Yeah, that is true about the pacifier. I think the fan is mainly to circulate the air so that CO doesn’t build-up around their mouth/nose.
Great tips and a great article, loved the information provided. My big brother (born and passed away before I was born) died of SIDS. My mother had a very hard time and constantly blamed herself, though she followed every rule you could. As much as it’s great to have tips, and an ease of mind, there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent it from happening. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced this kind of loss.
Hilary Erickson says
Yes, for sure — nothing can prevent it. I’m sorry for your family’s loss….
Jennifer @ Habitat for Mom says
Never though of the fan suggestion. But it’s brilliant! I always use a fan to circulate while I’m sleeping so naturally baby needs it too!
Hilary Erickson says