Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of an otherwise healthy baby. Although SIDS is rare, it affects just under 300 babies in the UK each year. As this usually happens during the first 6 months of a baby’s life, there are various ways parents can reduce the risk of SIDS in their baby:
1. Place baby on back to sleep
This is a crucial step to helping reduce the risk of SIDS. The famous back-to-sleep campaign was launched to promote this, and has since seen a dramatic reduction in the number of babies who suffer from SIDS. As a general rule, if babies are able to roll themselves onto their front and back, it’s okay if they naturally roll onto their front during sleep. For babies that are not yet able to do this, side sleeping should also be avoided as they are more likely to roll onto their front than their back. Making sure your baby sleeps on their back is important because it maximises their access to air and is good for preventing your baby from over-heating.
2. Place baby to sleep on firm surface
The surface you place your baby on to sleep is extremely important. Their sleep surface should be firm and flat, which you can help with this by fitting a tight-fitting sheet onto the surface. From various studies into SIDS, soft surfaces were seen to be a dangerous surface for babies to sleep on. Because of this, it’s important not to leave your baby to sleep on a sofa or chair.
3. Remove soft objects out of crib
Any objects that can inflict suffocation need to be avoided at all costs. This means removing any soft toys, blankets, pillows, etc out of their crib. Keep your baby’s crib nice and clear to reduce the risk of SIDS.
4. Breastfeed as much as possible
Studies show that breastfeeding has a significant effect on reducing the risk of SIDS. One of the reasons breastfeeding is thought to be a good SIDS prevention is that breastmilk helps babies to fight dangerous infections that increase the risk of SIDS. These infections include respiratory and gastrointestinal infections that can block your baby’s air passages. With breastmilk reducing the likelihood of your baby getting these dangerous infections, it helps to reduce the risk of SIDS.
5. Keep baby away from smokers
It’s important to keep your baby out of the way of smoke. Even if you are a smoker yourself, keep your car and home smoke-free. Smoke is extremely harmful for your baby’s lungs that are growing, and is also dangerous to your baby’s heart. Smoke can also block up little noses and inflict breathing problems. All of these side effects can dramatically increase a baby’s risk of SIDS. Some parents choose to have their baby sleep in the same bed as them. However, if you smoke, you should refrain from doing this.
There is currently little evidence relating to the relationship between e-cigarettes and SIDs, but e-cigarettes are thought to be safer around your baby than choosing to smoke. However, it is still advised to keep babies away from e-cigarettes. Again, your baby shouldn’t sleep in your bed if either you or your partner use e-cigarettes.
6. Make sure your baby doesn’t overheat
Babies don’t have the ability to regulate their body temperature well, and so they are sensitive to extreme temperatures. You can prevent your baby from overheating by ensuring the room they are sleeping in is at a comfortable temperature – the ideal temperature is between 16 and 20 degrees celcius. Having your baby sleep on their backs is another good step in making sure they don’t become too warm, but it’s also extremely important that you don’t layer your baby up too much, both in terms of clothing and blankets.
7. Share a room with your baby
It is recommended that your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first 6 months. The best way to do this is to place their cot or moses basket in your bedroom, keeping baby nice and close while also allowing them to sleep in the safety of their own cot. This is thought to be a good SIDS prevention method and can also give you peace of mind being near to your little one.
If you decide to have your baby sleep in the same bed as you, don’t do so if you smoke, have taken drugs or alcohol, are extremely tired, or if your baby was born premature and is of a low weight. These factors would increase the chance of SIDs. If you do choose to co-sleep, remove any objects that could block your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. This means removing any pillows, blankets, or other items that could be dangerous.
All of these pointers should be used in conjunction with one another, to ensure the safety of your baby. With the awareness and research there currently is for SIDS, the number of babies suffering from it has dramatically reduced. Being aware of these factors will help you in your SIDS prevention.
Although having your baby sleep on their back is extremely important in reducing the risk of SIDS, this can sometimes have an adverse effect of creating a flattening on your baby’s head. This can usually be counteracted with safe repositioning techniques, but book a free consultation with us today to see if your baby would benefit from further treatment.