SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the leading cause of death in infants under the age of one, and the third leading cause of overall infant mortality. SIDS refers to the unexplained death of an infant under the age of one. These deaths are especially tragic because parents are left wondering what happened and how they could have prevented it, and these are questions that rarely get answered.
While the rate of SIDS deaths has been decreasing over the years, it is still a serious problem and educating new parents is an important part of prevention. Here are some guidelines to follow in order to decrease the risk of SIDS for your infant:
- Place babies on their back to sleep – it is safer for babies to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs or sides, and this is the number one way to reduce the risk of SIDS. It is even more dangerous for babies to sleep on their sides or stomach if they usually sleep on their back, so consistency in sleep position is also important.
- Place babies on a firm sleeping surface – use a safety-approved crib mattress with a fitted sheet. Never allow your baby to sleep on soft surfaces such as pillows or quilts.
- Keep soft items away from your baby – do not place pillows, quilts, sheepskin, blankets, toys, loose bedding or other soft objects in the crib or near your baby’s face.
- Do not let your baby overheat – it is important that your baby does not get too hot while sleeping, so dress them in light clothing and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
- Breast-feed your baby – breast milk helps reduce respiratory problems and gastrointestinal infections, and studies show that babies who are breast-fed have a lower rate of SIDS.
As part of national SIDS Awareness Month, the Women’s Pavilion of Johnston Health is partnering with the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation to educate new parents on how to keep their babies safe at night. At our birthing center, we are distributing night lights and infant shirts to all newborns, as well as educational materials for new parents to take home. We encourage all parents to do some research and educate themselves on ways to decrease the risk of SIDS.
Click here to learn more about safe sleep environments from the National Institute of Child Health Development.