How Can Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Be Prevented?


By: Debbie Walker

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death during sleep of an apparently healthy child, under the age of one. A diagnosis of SIDS can only be applied after adequate post mortem investigations reveal no other causes. SIDS could be said to be a sudden death during sleep for no apparent reason.

It is impossible to predict if a child will succumb to SIDS. Medical research has failed to pinpoint a single exact cause but it has indicated various “risk factors” Knowing where the risk are can help you to eliminate them and thereby reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 75%. Use these guidelines to help provide a safe sleep environment for your baby.

Put your baby to sleep on his back.

The back to sleep campaign is thought to have reduced Sudden Infant deaths by between 50 – 75%. This is fairly new advice. Older mums (like me!) were probably told to put babies to sleep on their stomachs. However, medical opinion is unanimous. Putting baby to sleep on his/her back is the single most important thing you can do to prevent SIDS.

Use a firm Mattress with a fitted sheet.

Do not put baby to sleep (even for a nap) on soft surfaces such as water beds, sofa cushions, sheepskins or sleeping bags.

Remove all soft things from the crib/sleep area

Take away fluffy blanket, pillows, soft toys, duvets etc

Keep baby’s face uncovered.

Make sure that baby’s face stays uncovered and that blankets cannot shuffle up during the night. It is better to use sleep clothing rather than blankets. If you do use blankets, make sure that you place baby at the foot of the crib (with his feet to the bottom) and the blanket firmly tucked under the mattress and no higher than baby’s chest.

Do not smoke

Do not smoke during pregnancy and do not allow others to smoke round your baby.

Sleep near to your baby.

It is suggested that you should keep baby in the parent’s bedroom until 6 months old. It is NOT intended that you share a bed with your infant. It is hard to follow the SIDS prevention rules in an adult bed. The mattress is usually too soft and the pillows and fluffy bedding provide addition risks.

If you use a pacifier for sleep or nap times do not reinsert it once baby is asleep

Do not allow your baby to overheat

The room should be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. Do not use too many clothes or blankets.

Make sure everyone knows these prevention tips.

Some of this advise is new (especially back to sleep) and even some older care givers may not know. It is important that everyone who looks after you baby is aware of the steps to keep your baby safe.

Lack of sleep is the one of the hardest aspect of new parenthood. Getting baby off to sleep can be a major headache. The primary goal is to get baby off to sleep quickly – and to sleep safely through the night.

Debbie Walker runs Sleep Baby Sleep an advice website. You will find articles to help with all aspects of baby sleep like The co-sleeping transition. There are also several carefully chose products such as the baby sleep pillow.


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