Parents want to do everything to keep their babies safe. When it comes to protecting infants from SIDS, however, there is only so much that parents can do. And while the rates with which babies are dying from SIDS have decreased significantly over the last several decades, the syndrome is still a fear in the back of parents’ minds whenever little ones are put down for slumber. But by implementing some simple strategies, the risk of SIDS for babies can be lowered.
According to the NHS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the “sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of an apparently healthy tot.” Babies may present themselves as being healthy and happy before going down for a nap or for the evening, and then they fail to wake up. The syndrome is heartbreaking and can alter the trajectory of a family.
But with safe sleep practices having been recommended since the mid-1990s, the instances of SIDS have dramatically decreased. But whatever number of babies perishing from SIDS is too many. This is why whatever parents can do to keep them safe while sleeping will help to reduce the risk, and should be done.
Here are ways to lower the risk of SIDS in babies.
10 Put Babies To Sleep On Their Backs
The number one most important thing that parents can do to keep their babies safe is to put them on their backs to sleep. Every. Single. Time.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the safest way for babies to be put to sleep is by placing them on their backs. The reasons this is the safest sleep position, per the publication, include:
Babies are less responsive to noise
Babies can experience sudden decreases in blood pressure,
Their heart rate has trouble being controlled
Babies move around less
Longer periods of deep sleep are experienced
Therefore, simply putting babies on their backs to sleep is the most effective and easiest way to protect them from SIDS.
9 Keep The Crib Clear
When there are blankets and pillows in the crib, babies may roll into them while sleeping. When this happens and babies are in a deep sleep, they run the risk of suffocating.
According to the Sleep Foundation, the first time babies should sleep with a blanket is when they are 12 months old. If babies appear to be cold, putting a sleep sack on them will help to keep them warm without running the risk of a blanket blocking their noses or mouth.
8 Have Firm Mattress
Babies need a firm surface to sleep on so that when they begin to roll over in their sleep the mattress does not sink in with them, which causes a suffocation hazard, according to Naturepedic. As such, when picking out a mattress, per publication, it should be between an eight and 10 on the firmness scale. Anything else is deemed too soft.
7 Have Baby Sleep In Parent’s Room
When babies sleep in the same room as their parents, they are constantly surrounded by soft noise. While it does not prevent them from falling asleep, it may prevent them from being in deep sleep for too long, according to The New York Times. And because of this, when sleeping in their own bed in their parents’ room, babies face a reduced risk of SIDS.
6 Breastfeed Baby
Unbeknownst to parents, babies could be fighting respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, according to Ask Dr. Sears. And with babies who passed from SIDS, some were found to have these infections.
Therefore, per publication, the best way to combat infection is by breastfeeding, if mothers are able to do so. This is because the antibodies in the milk will either prevent or help fight off infection, keeping babies’ airways clear.
5 Keep Baby At Comfortable Temperature
When babies wear too many layers of clothing, they run the risk of overheating. This is because they are unable to regulate their body temperature. If excessive clothing is worn when babies are put to bed, according to Healthlinethey are at a higher risk for SIDS.
To combat the risk of SIDS, parents should keep the temperature of the bedroom between 68 ºF and 75 ºF, per publication. And only put babies in one layer more of clothing than what parents are comfortable in, in order to keep babies comfortable as they sleep.
4 Use Pacifiers
If babies will take pacifiers, they are a great way to combat SIDS.
According to Scientific American, pacifiers the reason that pacifiers work is that there is a bulky end to them. As such, no matter how much babies try to put their faces into the mattress, they will be unable to as a result of the pacifier.
3 Swaddle Baby
When babies are all bundled up, it is difficult for them to move. And the less they can move, the more protected they are from SIDS.
According to Happiest Baby, swaddling decreases the activity babies can do when they sleep. As such, they are less likely to get their faces into places where they are unable to breathe.
A word of caution with swaddling, however. When babies show that they are working on rolling over, swaddling should be stopped when sleeping. This is because if babies roll over with no way to right themselves, they are at more of a risk of SIDS rather than less.
2 Take Care If Co-Sleeping
Co-sleeping has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS, according to RaisingChildren.net.au. But many parents continue to do it anyway.
Therefore, if co-sleeping is going to be done, parents may want to consider putting an attachable crib on the side of the bed. This way, babies still have their own place to sleep, and are close to their parents, but are at less risk of suffocating in pillows, blankets, or even, unfortunately, by parents themselves.
1 Vaccinate Baby
There are parents who believe that vaccinations put babies at a higher risk for SIDS. But according to PolitifactSIDS is decreased by 50 percent when babies receive their vaccines.
Per the publication, the DPT vaccine alone decreases the risk of SIDS by 10 percent and the polio vaccine decreases the risk of SIDS as well.
Perhaps it is because babies get the vast majority of their vaccines during the time when SIDS is most often to occur that parents believe the two are related, according to Politifact. But with the number of babies who get vaccines yearly compared to the deaths that occur from SIDS, it would be expected to see a higher number of SIDS cases than is seen.
As such, researchers have determined that if SIDS occurs shortly after vaccines were given, it is a coincidence and nothing more.
Source: NHS, National Institutes of Health, Sleep Foundation, Naturepedic, The New York Times, Ask Dr. Sears, Healthline, Scientific American, Happiest Baby, RaisingChildren.net.au, Politifact