Infant Care: Preventing SIDS

Sudden infant death, or SIDS, also known as crib death is the worst nightmare in infant care. One of the largest reductions in this tragic death came after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offered parents recommendations for safe sleep for infants in 1992. The AAP then launched a “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1994. The rates have dropped by more than 60% since the launch of the programs and recommendations.

AAP Recommendations

Parents would often put the baby to bed laying on his or her side or stomach. The infant care sleep recommendation from the AAP is to lay baby on the back. When on the side, the baby can roll over onto the stomach, increasing the chances for SIDS. Since this recommendation, SIDS deaths have decreased from about 154.5 deaths in 1990 to about 39.4 deaths as of 2015 according to CDC records.

The APA also advises against allowing your baby to sleep too long in a sitting position, such as in a stroller, car seat or swing. It is best to lay the baby on a flat surface for sleeping. You also need to make sure that friends and family, babysitters, and care takers for your child also know to put the baby down on his or her back for sleeping. The risk for SIDS is much higher for an infant who is used to sleeping on their back to suddenly be placed on the stomach for sleeping.

Infant Care Sleep Concerns

Some parents are fearful that their baby may choke while sleeping in this position; however, healthy babies automatically swallow or cough up fluids. Choking is very uncommon. If you have concerns, you should talk to your pediatrician about elevating the head of your infant’s mattress.

Around six months of age, the baby will begin to roll over and at this point you don’t have to worry if you put your baby on his back and he rolls over to the side or on his stomach. If he can choose his own sleep position, by rolling over he will be okay.

Other Recommendations

The crib or bassinet mattress should be firm. Soft bedding or toys can pose a hazard. Stuffed animals, quilts, crib bumpers and pillows may be cute, but take them out of the bed when you put your infant down to sleep.

Smoking around your baby is a very bad idea. Babies born to smokers are three times more vulnerable to SIDS than those of nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk for SIDS. Your infant needs to be in a smoke-free environment.

Research shows that the incidence of SIDS is lower for infants who sleep in the same room as Mom, however, bringing your infant into the bed to sleep with you is also hazardous. If you do bring your baby in bed with you for feeding or soothing, put the baby back into the crib after he or she has fallen asleep.

The pediatricians at Pediatric Healthcare will help you keep your infant healthy and happy. Call us for information or schedule an appointment to speak to one of our doctors.

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