One of the most terrifying parts of being a parent is having to accept that you will never fully be in control. You can do every single thing right, but problems will still arise. While most of these instances have a resolution, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can come on quickly and the outcome is final. Thus, it is imperative that you follow certain guidelines to drastically reduce your child’s chances of SIDS.
What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a seemingly healthy child under the age of one that occurs while they are sleeping. This horrific event impacts an average of 3,500 infants each year. Unfortunately, doctors still do not know the cause and most parents don’t notice any warning signs.
What they do know is that this devastating prognosis peaks between two to four months of age, making this the prime time to focus on keeping your baby safe. Thankfully, there are methods that have shown proven success in lessening the instance of SIDS.
Drastically Reduce SIDS With These Five Simple Steps
#1 - Always Use A Pacifier
The number one way to drastically reduce SIDS is to always use a pacifier. While a lactation specialist will note that it can cause nipple confusion, which can make breastfeeding a much harder hurdle, this one action can decrease your child’s chance of SIDS by 90%!
The sucking motion improves their airflow and it keeps their tongue in a forward position, preventing them from blocking their throat. Moreover, this tiny device can work as a big barrier between your baby and their bedding. For those who are concerned about breastfeeding, consider purchasing pacifiers that are made to mimic the shape of a nipple. This can help to avoid issues that may arise.
#2 - Create A Safe Sleeping Environment
Another important step is ensuring that your baby has a safe sleeping environment. In order to do this, you must first provide them with a firm surface to sleep on -- a bassinet or approved crib mattress are best. This needs to be used EVERY time they go to sleep. In case you didn’t know, if they slump down in a swing, there is a chance for positional asphyxiation.
Next, put them to sleep alone. That means no blankets, pillows, bumpers, toys, or any other item. All of these are suffocation hazards to a newborn who doesn’t have the ability or the strength to move items that would impede their airflow.
Keep Them With You
It is also important to keep your baby in YOUR room for at least the first six months, if not the first year of their life. Studies show that by doing this, you reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%. Why? First, it allows you to more effectively check on them throughout the night.
Second, researchers theorize that one of the possible triggers for SIDS is the inability to arouse from their slumber. Unlike a noise machine, most people make sporadic noises and movements throughout their sleep. Thus, the sounds that you and your spouse make will prevent your little one from getting into too deep of a sleep, potentially saving their life.
#3 - Put Your Baby To Sleep On Their Back
Putting your baby to sleep on their back is another proven method for drastically reducing their chances for SIDS. This position gives them ample air flow, reduces the chances of carbon dioxide buildup and it allows for them to be more receptive to noise.
Additionally, sleeping on their tummy can put them in too deep of a sleep, which as mentioned, can be a trigger for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
#4 - Keep The Room Cool
The preferred temperature for a baby is between 68 and 72 degrees. This is especially true for premature babies and newborns with a low birth weight. These factors can cause them to struggle with regulating their temperature. By keeping the room cool, you will help to prevent them from overheating.
Moreover, recent studies have shown that you can reduce the risk of SIDS by 72% by just flipping the switch of your ceiling fan! This becomes a great tool for babies who sleep in adverse sleep environments (warmer temperatures, without a pacifier or those sharing a bed).
#5 - Breastfeed
Referred to a “liquid gold”, this natural supplement provides your child with nourishment and so much more! Not only does it help them to fight against potential infections, but it also improves their ability to suck and swallow. These are key benefits that keep your baby safe at night.
Moreover, formula is fantastic at filling up your baby’s tummy and keeping them full for longer than a breastfed baby. This can lull them to sleep for long periods of time. However, as wonderful as that sounds, there is a reason that breastfeeding is recommended by health professionals.
You need to wake your baby every few hours until they are better equipped to function by themselves. Studies have confirmed that if you can dedicate two months to breastfeeding exclusively, you can cut the chances of SIDS in half!
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a catastrophic prognosis. While there is no exact cause, there are ways to drastically reduce the risk. Be proactive and constantly monitor your little one for the first few months of life. Moreover, while they are awake, engage in tummy time! This is a fun way to build their neck and shoulder muscles and give them the power to help themselves in the moments that you step away to shower or sleep.