SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the mysterious sudden death of infants under 12 months old and is one of the biggest fears amongst parents, causing normally sane individuals to randomly jolt out of bed and lean over the baby’s crib to check that he or she is still breathing. There are theories and, while countless studies have been done on what exactly causes SIDS, experts have identified ways to reduce the risk:
- Until your baby can sufficiently roll, place the baby on his or her back to sleep at night and naptime. Many experts believe the SIDS risk is higher for tummy-sleepers not because of suffocation but because babies sleep more soundly on their stomachs, meaning they might not wake up as easily if they experience sleep apnea. Don’t be surprised if your baby resists back sleeping for a bit; he or she should get used to it soon.
- Make sure the crib mattress is firm and free of pillows, comforters or other fluffy, loose bedding.
- The FDA recently recommended against using any kind of sleep positioner. If you need to raise your baby’s head for reflux reasons, put a few blankets under the mattress, not under your baby.
- Have your baby wear sleeper blankets to bed, rather than covering him or her in a loose blanket. If you do need to use a blanket, make sure that it only goes from chest to ankles and is tightly tucked into the mattress.
- Do not smoke anywhere near the baby – period.
- Keep the baby’s room between 61 and 67 degrees and don’t over-bundle, as overheating can be dangerous. A sleeping blanket is all that’s needed.
- Consider using a pacifier during sleep time, but don’t force it if he or she won’t take one.
Shaken Baby Syndrome:
A baby’s relentless crying can make any parent go crazy. During the first week, your baby was probably zonked out much of the time (being contracted out of a birth canal is exhausting!), but week two’s crying (and your built-up sleep deprivation) may be more than you can handle. Remember, though, no matter how frustrated and exhausted you might be, never shake your baby!
Shaken Baby Syndrome is when your baby is forcibly shaken so hard that his or her brain can actually bleed from moving back and forth in the skull. This can cause:
- Difficulty or stopped breathing
- Seizures and vomiting
- Difficulty keeping eyes open/lifelessness
If you feel yourself about to lose it:
- Put your baby somewhere safe (in a crib) and walk away.
- Take a deep breath and count to 10.
- Ask someone else to come and take over.
- Do not pick up your baby again until you’ve calmed down.
If you or someone you know has violently shaken your baby, call 911 immediately. Don’t be ashamed or scared to take responsibility – your child’s life is on the line.