SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is often a top concern of parents with infants. These concerns aren't unfounded as SIDS is the leading cause of death among children younger than 12-months-old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The risk of SIDS peaks between 1 and 4 months of age, but it's vital to take precautions to prevent it during your little one's entire first year. Understanding the risk factors and taking proper safety steps can help you cut back on your worrying and enjoy your new baby.
Use a firm and properly fitting mattress in your baby's crib. This keeps her from getting stuck in a crevice between the mattress and the side of the crib. Avoid soft mattresses because your baby can sink into them, which can restrict breathing, notes the BabyCenter website.
Keep soft, fluffy items out of the crib including a crib bumper, stuffed animals, pillows and blankets. These items can cause suffocation if your little one gets his face pressed up against them and can't move away, notes the KidsHealth website. A well-fitting crib sheet is the only thing that you should have in your baby's crib. Use a blanket sleeper to keep your baby warm rather than using blankets.
Put your baby to sleep on her back at all times. Stomach or side sleeping increases the risk of SIDS because both positions can restrict breathing.
Avoid cigarettes and never allow your baby in a place where other people are smoking cigarettes. Exposure to secondhand smoke doubles the chances that your baby might die of SIDS, according to the KidsHealth website. It's also important to avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs during pregnancy because using them as your baby grows in utero increases the risk of SIDS as well.
Prevent your baby from overheating. Too many layers or a bedroom that's too warm can cause SIDS. If you're hot, chances are your baby is too. The BabyCenter website suggests keeping the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and dressing your baby in a way that would keep you feeling comfortable.
Use only the crib for sleeping. Allowing your little one to sleep on a water bed, stack of pillows, sofa or other soft surface can increase the risk of SIDS, according to Dr. Alan Greene on his parenting advice website.
Instruct all caregivers about safe sleep habits. This includes your daycare provider, your parents, the teenager next door and anyone else who cares for your baby when he's sleeping. One-fifth of SIDS deaths occur while someone other than a parent is caring for a baby, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, so it's vital to ensure that your baby's caregivers know the risks and the precautions to take to help prevent SIDS.