Written By: Neve Spicer
Providing proper care to your baby begins with knowing best practices for safety. When it comes to their sleep accommodations, it's crucial that parents follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations for infant sleep until babies reach the twelve month mark. These rules help to eliminate the presence of choking and strangulation hazards, encourage correct positioning, and help parents understand lifestyle factors that can both increase and decrease the risk of SIDS.
SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, refers to the unexplained passing of a child who is under a year old. Research into this devastating condition has revealed that safe sleep practices and lifestyle changes can be impactful in reducing SIDS risk. October is SIDS Awareness Month, a global health initiative targeting new parents with crucial information about safe infant sleep.
Being informed is the first step in reducing SIDS risk. Some key takeaways:
- Both at naptime and at bedtime, your infant should be placed on their back in a crib, bassinet, or moses basket without sheets, blankets, pillows, or body positioners -- these can act as suffocation hazards. Help them stay temperate by using a safe sleep product such as a velcro swaddle for infants or a sleep sack as they get bigger.
- If you're able to breastfeed your infant, doing so can help reduce their risk. Babies who are nursed for at least two months are 50% less prone to SIDS than bottle-fed counterparts.
- Don't fall asleep holding baby in an armchair or on the couch -- a lack of safe positioning raises SIDS risk in this situation by a staggering 50x. If you're feeling tired, make sure to place baby in their crib or pass them off to another adult.
- Kick the nicotine habit once and for all. It's best to quit pre-pregnancy, as women who smoke between one and nine cigarettes per day while pregnant are quadrupling their child's risk of death from SIDS. Secondhand smoke found in vehicles, in homes, and on clothes can also have a negative impact.
More information about SIDS Awareness Month is available online.