After all, SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexplainable and unexpected death of a baby less than one year old. There is no known cause. Scientists do know, however, that it causes about half of the sleep-related deaths among infants. And 90% of SIDS deaths happen before a baby reaches six months of age.
So what can parents like you do to protect your child?
You can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS by taking the following precautions.
Take Care of Yourself While You’re Pregnant
While your baby’s body is developing inside you, give her all the help you can by taking care of yourself.
- Keep regular prenatal check-ups with your doctor
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana or illegal drugs during pregnancy or after the baby is born.
- Don’t let others smoke around you.
Give Your Baby Clean Air and Good Food
Once your baby is born, make sure only the best things go into her body:
- Plan to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many benefits for mother and child, in addition to reducing the risk of SIDS.
- Ask others not to smoke around your baby. Avoid smoky environments as much as possible.
Provide a Safe Sleeping Environment
Over time, doctors have learned that certain sleeping environments are better at preventing SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. Here are the key elements of a safe sleep environment:
- Put Baby to sleep on her back in light sleepwear. This allows Baby to breathe easily and not overheat. (See this post for tips on dressing Baby for sleep in colder months.)
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface—not a sofa or chair—free of blankets, toys, or crib bumpers, in order to help prevent suffocation. Use only a snug fitted sheet on the mattress.
- Do not usually let Baby sleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, infant sling or similar product.
- Put Baby to sleep in her own bed, in the same room with you.
- Having a separate safe sleep surface for the baby reduces the risk of SIDS and the chance of suffocation, strangulation and entrapment.
- Give your baby plenty of time on her tummy when she is awake and someone is watching her. This helps strengthen her neck, shoulder, and arm muscles. It also helps with the way baby’s heads can get a little flattened in back if they don’t get time on their tummies.
Now, Test Yourself
See how much you remember from what you’ve just read. Take this short video quiz:
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