A few years before I was born, my mother went to greet her sweet son one morning and found him lifeless. (You can read her story here, on in these small moments.)
His cause of death was called crib death then, and the doctors knew very little about what caused it or how to prevent it.
Though we still don’t know specifically what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), we do know how we can try to reduce the chances of losing a child to it.
First, what is SIDS?
SIDS, the number one cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year of age, is defined as the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than one year old. The majority of SIDS deaths occur when babies are between 2 and 4 months old.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of having a sleep plan in place before you have your baby. Things might change a bit after the baby arrives, but having a plan while you’re not sleep deprived is a helpful start.
Whatever sleep plan you choose, there are many ways that you can help to prevent SIDS.
What are 6 important ways that you can reduce the risk of SIDS?
1. The most important thing that you can do is always place your baby to sleep on his or her back. Babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides are more likely to die from SIDS.
2. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface with a fitted sheet. Don’t place your baby to sleep on anything soft and fluffy.
3. Hold off on giving your baby any soft objects to sleep with or near, including toys, blankets, and a padded crib bumper.
4. Don’t allow your baby to overheat while sleeping. Keep your baby in light sleep clothing and maintain a room temperature that an adult would find comfortable.
5. Consider using a pacifier when laying your baby down to sleep. (You might consider holding off on this for a bit if you in the early stages of nursing.)
6. Don’t allow any smoking around your baby. Ever.
The above suggestions work for both co-sleeping families and for those who place their babies in a crib.
If co-sleeping is for you, please read Dr. Sears’ thorough set of guidelines for safe co-sleeping.
We chose not to co-sleep, so we were able to use an Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor, which is designed to alert you if your baby should stop breathing.
It is important, however, to note that the motion monitor will not prevent SIDS. You should always follow the other recommendations above. Though my mother’s loss still weighs heavily on me, the monitor offered our family a little peace of mind when our babies were small.